Oftentimes, Mike Terrana and Jörg Michael are credited as the busiest drummers in the business, each having lent their pounding rhythms to countless projects over the years. However, there’s also one other drummer who is just as prolific: the criminally underrated John Macaluso. This American drummer has appeared on over two hundred releases to date, the majority of which are probably Lion Music releases (Macaluso provided the beats for every Lion Music promo I’ve ever reviewed). After an eternity spent providing backup for many a virtuoso’s solo project, Macaluso finally busts out with a pet project of his own, UNION RADIO.
“The Radio Waves Goodbye” was painstakingly crafted over a period of eighteen months, and although that’s quite a while in the musical world, the reason for it becomes clear when you look at the guest list for the album. Macaluso pulled out all the stops for this one, calling in every favor he could to get his best musical buddies on his dream album. The result is a fantastic treat for Prog fans.
“The Radio Waves Goodbye” opens with a dark Progressive Metal number called “Soul In My Mind”. After a few gritty beats from Macaluso, a smooth, breathy, instantly recognizable voice pumps through the speakers: it’s none other than James LaBrie, the voice behind DREAM THEATER, the world’s biggest Prog Metal band of all time. If you think the big names end there, however, you’re horribly mistaken. Mike DiMeo (ex-RIOT, MASTERPLAN) lends his powerful pipes to the PINK FLOYD-esque “Mother Illusion” and “Gates To Bridges”. Fellow Lion Music virtuosi Vitalij Kuprij and Alex Masi contribute keyboard and guitar solos when necessary. However, perhaps the biggest surprise is the not-as-famous Adrian Holtz (ARK), who delivers a stellar vocal performance on “Shimmering Grey”.
Due to the very loose nature of Lion Music’s instrumental releases, Macaluso has always been given plenty of room to muck about, but he cuts loose even more than usual on “The Radio Waves Goodbye”. His drumming on the album is absolutely stunning; time and time again, Macaluso reminds us why he’s one of the best in the biz. Perhaps the best example is the sweeping Macaluso/Kuprij instrumental “duet”, “T-34”. The track is, simply put, seven and a half minutes of pure technical bliss. Another good example is Macaluso’s blistering drum solo, “Pretzel” (featuring one hilarious intro, thanks to Macaluso’s over-the-top acting).
Instrumental wizardry, world-class musicians, a unique tone, and diverse songwriting: “The Radio Waves Goodbye” has got it all. If you’re a fan of Progressive Rock or Metal (or a drummer), you need this release, as not only does it feature some of the best musicians in the genre collaborating on one record, but it’s chock-full of mind-boggling beats from one of the most experienced drummers in the world. Macaluso’s vision for UNION RADIO was to create the best album he had ever played on in his career, and in that, he has succeeded admirably.
(Online July 20, 2007)