I love TOTO. I really do. So naturally, when I heard that a TOTO cover album was available for review, I couldn’t wait to get my grubby little hands on it. When I found out that the band’s singer was Roberto Tirani (LABYRINTH), I pulled said grubby little hands away as quickly as possible to avoid permanent scarring. Despite this initial setback, I went ahead and listened to the album anyway, and much to my surprise, Tirani’s mega-irritating voice doesn’t completely ruin the album.
KING OF BALANCE is Italy’s premier TOTO cover band, formed around Tirani and guitarist Alex De Rosso (ex-DOKKEN), and they’ve chosen fourteen of your favourite TOTO tunes to cover. The songs range from the smooth, melodic hits (“Hold The Line”) to some more Prog-like material (“Hydra”), and for the most part, KING OF BALANCE have stayed quite true to the source material. The instruments are bang-on, note-perfect, whatever you want to call it, but De Rosso and his crew TOTO-lly nailed these songs (awful pun, I know). Perhaps the two highlights are album opener “Girl Goodbye” and the infamous “Hold The Line,” which ends the album in an epic fashion.
Obviously, Tirani’s voice is still an issue, and the fact that he’s singing cool, smooth Melodic Rock rather than wild Power Metal makes his shrill vocals seem even more out of place. He sounds decent enough on the lower notes, but as soon as the music gets intense, he starts wailing like there’s no tomorrow. An example is the verse of “Angel Don’t Cry,” which is fine for the first half of it, but then Tirani shifts gears and starts squeaking along in that irritatingly high voice. Ugh.
Despite the fact that the singer’s voice is unsuited to this kind of music, KING OF BALANCE still manage to accomplish their mission: paying a worthy tribute to their idols. “A Rockwalk Through The Toto Years” is a good collection of the best TOTO songs played accurately and with love. If you’re a TOTO fan, it wouldn’t hurt to hear a few new interpretations of some of Rock’s classic songs.
(Online June 7, 2008)