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Rob Moratti – Paragon

Rob Moratti
Paragon
by Matt Bozenda at 09 November 2020, 10:49 PM

O Canada, the Great White North, where the metal community is like cold-rolled steel, ideal for the formulas, the algorithms, the step-by-step ease of access. It should be little wonder then that the country’s music catalog boasts a who’s who of Progressive bands running the gamut of subgenres, from STRAPPING YOUNG LAD and GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR to bands like TRIUMPH and the legendary RUSH.

Another, less-heralded champion of Canadian Prog was SAGA, who did their best sales in Northern Europe but maintained a steady popularity at home as well. The band’s tale is a long and complex one, but for this review you need to remember this: original lead singer and founding member Michael Sadler left the band in early 2007, whereupon the remaining band decided to continue on with a replacement. That replacement was an individual by the name of Rob Moratti, formerly of the melodic rock outfit FINAL FRONTIER. This produced the album "The Human Condition", the band’s only recording without Sadler, who returned to the band two years later.

Today, elbow deep in his own solo band, Rob Moratti has put forth his latest creation, "Paragon". Fans of melodic and Progressive Rock who still have fond memories of listening to 1980’s arena rock are in for a treat. Put to a double-blind test, listeners might well believe this is a new JOURNEY album or at least part of Steve Perry’s solo work.

The arena-rock throwback idea is put to work right away on track one, "I’m Falling", and it doesn’t let up on it the rest of the way. It isn’t until "Remember" that the power gets turned up a notch, but that gets tempered by "Where Do We Go From Here", which contains massive pop ballad vibes.

"Break The Chains" has the sound and panache to have gotten prominent television use, but unfortunately for a show that would have aired at least a couple decades ago. That’s followed up by "Alone Anymore", the album’s longest track and also the best at meshing, all at once, the melodic/prog/arena sounds that have been prevalent to this point. "Bullet Proof Alibi" has potential for the contemporary radio stations, though not as much as the album’s closer, "Stay Away", which could be regarded as the album’s strongest link in the chain.

The good of the album is put off somewhat by some less strong material, songs like "What Have We Become" and "All I’m Living For". It isn’t that these songs are bad, per se, but their place as album filler can be difficult to avoid. "Drifting Away", for example, sounds like it was cut from some very old cloth, and if a music video accompanies it, Beavis and Butthead would likely harangue it to no end.

It’s not for a lack of music talent, which is most certainly here, but "Paragon" is not this year’s most intense feature. The fun and kitsch of the throwback songs is defeatedly contrasted with the throwaway tracks. How it landed on the altars of Metal Temple is a mystery; if this album is metal, it’s aluminum. The built-in fanbase of melodic and progressive rock, however, should have no objections to this meal set before them. Rob Moratti seems to have carved himself a comfortable niche in the music industry, and he fills his role in the scheme rather well. It may not necessarily convert any nonbelievers, but "Paragon" is definitely going to gain supporters as time goes on.

Musicianship: 8
Songwriting: 6
Memorability: 5
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. I'm Falling
2. Rise Above
3. What Have We Become
4. Remember
5. Where Do We Go From Here
6. Drifting Away
7. Break The Chains
8. Alone Anymore
9. Bullet Proof Alibi
10. All I’m Living For
11. Picking Up The Pieces
12. Stay Away
Lineup:
Rob Moratti – Vocals
Torben Enevoldsen – Guitars, keyboards
Stu Reid – Drums
Tony Franklin – Bass
Joel Hoekstra – Guitar
Ian Crichton – Guitar
Record Label: AOR Heaven
     


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