Never heard of BALANCE? They were a short-lived Melodic Rock band back in the ‘80s whose members included Peppy Castro (vocals), Doug Katsaros (keys), KISS guest musician Bob Kulick (guitar), and former RAINBOW drummer Chuck Burgi. After the band’s second album failed in 1982, BALANCE went their separate ways, with each member continuing to stay active in the music scene. Nearly twenty years later, Frontiers Records would send them an invitation to record a new album, and with new drummer Bret Chassen, “Equilibrium” was the end result.
“Equilibrium” is an odd album, slightly atypical of the Melodic Rock genre. Sometimes, such as on “Crazy Little Susie,” the band is ungodly heavy, whereas on songs like “Forever,” they’re unbelievably sweet. While all the members of the band are very adept musicians, the defining sound of the band is actually Katsaros’ keyboards, which add a spacey edge to the harder songs and a soothing atmosphere to the more light-hearted ones. Kudos also go out to Kulick, who manages to get one of the sexiest tones out his lead guitar that I’ve heard in a while.
Musically, the band is all over the place. “Who You Gonna Love” is an excellent example of what a straight-up Blues song would sound like with ‘80s production values. “What Have U Done” is very high-energy, whereas “Winner Takes All” is very languid (and also features a cool little keyboard solo). Thankfully, the songs are all quite well written; even if there are few standout tracks, they’re all worth all repeated spins.
2009 looks to be a great year for Melodic Rock, and with BALANCE proving they’ve still got it, I’m excited to see what else is coming up. “Equilibrium” is a record that AOR fans will love, even if BALANCE does occasionally dabble in different genres. It’s the versatility expressed in this record that makes it so good; sure, the band can write a catchy tune, but they also don’t mind experimenting. This experimentation is what makes them stand amidst a sea of Joe-Scott-Jeff-Lynn-Soto-Turner clones.
(Online February 24, 2009)