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Alta Reign - Mother's Day Award winner

Alta Reign
Mother's Day
by Kevin Lewis at 18 April 2021, 10:20 AM

ALTA REIGN is a hodge podge of musicians who have worked together off and on for 20 plus years. Assembled by Jeff Plate, this is a veritable supergroup that includes personnel from bands he has previously recorded and toured with. Mother’s Day is the culmination of 30 years of dedication, drawing on influences and inspirations from that timespan. Released January 8, 2021 via Rat Pak Records, Mother’s Day is a debut that will make the listener hope this is not a one off for this incredible lineup.

This record is a mix. There’s Rock, Metal, Prog and a lot of melodic music. It features two guitarists and two keyboard players and four different people singing. Oh, and there are two guest guitarists. Every one of these musicians is legendary in at least one genre/band. This is a disparate group of people who come together and make something new and extraordinary.

The record starts with “Shine,” a Hard Rock song with a really nice guitar riff and a killer rhythm. The guitars hold a prominent place, but they are not the show stoppers. The bass gets a chance to, well, “Shine” and the piano leads off the solo before the guitar really rips. Back to keyboard, then more guitars. Talk about an immense sound. The fullness of the tones really fills the entire space. And under all of it, the drums do more than just keep a rhythm, they weave in and out of the riff, directing the song along rather than just keeping time.

Witness” starts off with a wonderful guitar riff before settling into a nice rhythm. It starts on the heavier side and drifts back and forth throughout the song. The vocalists in this band do not spend a lot of time trying to belt out their lines, rather they just sing them with simple, honest tones that enhance the overall song rather than overpower the melody. The lyrics are complex and poignant, lending all the power needed to make the listener appreciate what is being sung.

Another one of the heavier songs comes next. "Thin Red Line” blazes a trail right from the start with a heavy riff and a really good rhythm. This is followed by the more melodic “Never Say Never”. Leaning a little more on the keyboards, this is a song that uses underlying keyboard tones to really beef up the sound. This is a great use of an instrument to set a mood within a song.

Next, we have the title track, the pivotal song on this record. “Mother’s Day” is over seven minutes of music that varies from progressive to straight hard rock. After a quick intro reminding you not to mess with Mother Nature, the keyboards and drums have a race to the guitar riff. This song feels like a nod to Jeff’s time in SAVATAGE to me. This is a complex, progressive song that moves through various phases, but never loses track of its identity. This is the song that really showcases the talents of the musicians and the writers alike.

As we keep moving, “ESC (Escape)” is a quick instrumental that just crushes from start to finish. Giving every instrument a chance to shine, a recurring theme on this record, it rocks hard and showcases the individual talents on this record. “Come Out And Play” and “Let’s Go” are both fun tracks that move the record through more great guitar riffs and steady, pounding rhythms.

The following track is the ballad, “Always,” a song so poignant and full of feeling that it got an acoustic treatment as a bonus track. Haunting and ethereal at some times, moving and passionate at others, it deals with the desire to be there for that special someone at all times. Both the electric and acoustic versions just feel comfortable. This is the instantly relatable song on the record.

Driving on after that ballad, “Immortal” is another mid-tempo rocker. With a more subdued guitar riff, this is a classic rock type song that could have come out in the 80s and been all over radio. Not that this is the only radio worthy song on the record, but this is arena rock at its finest. This takes us to “Passage” a two-minute instrumental that sets up the longest song on the record. This doesn’t have the flair of “ESC (Escape),” but it does tie back to “Immortal” thematically.

Now we have my personal favorite on the record. “Rise” features guitar work by Chris Caffery, another TSO/SAVATAGE alum that Jeff Plate has worked with for decades. “Rise” is a slow burner that never gets in a hurry, moving at a very intentional pace. The tunings are awesome and the riff works well with the rhythm. The drums do everything from pound out a slow beat to race with the guitar solo. The keyboards tie everything together by meshing with guitars at times, then meeting up with the bass or drums for a bit. The song is complex and riveting.

I was not sure what to expect from this record. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a drum heavy record with a huge Metal influence, since Jeff Plate has played in two major bands with fairly diverse sounds (SAVATAGE and Prog Metal v. METAL CHURCH with Thrash). What I got was so much more. The melodic Metal and Hard Rock and AOR influence all over this record are a mix of all the things I love in music as a whole.

While this is widely varied record, covering a lot of ground, it is coherent. The songs work well together. The record flows well from song to song. The recording, mixing and production are spot on. This is a well-executed album from the get-go and never lets up. ALTA REIGN is definitely a band I hope can continue to put out music. This is very busy group of musicians who never seem to slow down, so I’m sure scheduling will be an issue, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting more.

Songwriting:  9
Musicianship:  10
Memorability:  9
Production:  9

4 Star Rating

1. Shine
2. Witness
3. Thin Red Line
4. Never Say Never
5. Mother's Day (Featuring Joel Hoekstra)
6. ESC (Escape)
7. Come Out and Play
8. Let's Go! (I'm In Charge Now)
9. Always
10. Immortal
11. Passage
12. Rise (Featuring Chris Caffery)
13. Always (Acoustic Version) (Bonus Track)
Zach Hamilton – Vocals/Additional Keyboards
Tommy Cook – Lead Vocals/Guitars
Collin Holloway – Lead Vocals/Additional Guitars
Kevin McCarthy – Bass/Vocals
Jeff Plate – Drums/Percussion
Jane Mangini – Keyboards
Record Label: Rat Pak Records


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