Steel Mill’s first anniversary guests Sandalinas have just unleashed a strong second album to a genre that is nowadays actually extremely challenging for new bands. Same I guess as it has always been, although for completely different reasons. 10-15 years ago traditional heavy metal faced almost an universal ban, with every new release more or less receiving a cold and heartless slaughtering by the media. Today melodic metal is once again appreciated as it should be, problem now of course is that there are literally thousands of hopefuls trying to make an impact. For too many times, they are lost in the mass and barely survive beyond their first album.
Sandalinas’ founding member guitarist Jordi Sandalinas formed the band roughly 10 years ago and after couple of EP-releases, King Diamond guitarist and famous record producer Andy LaRocque got interested and agreed to produce their debut album “Living On The Edge”, released in 2005 it featured Firewind’s current singer Apollo Papathanasio.
“Living on the Edge” was successful enough and received positive reviews in several magazines and over the web. Band launched onto a tour supporting such heavy weights as Scorpions and Saxon thus generating more positive reactions amongst metal fans. Fast forward few years and Sandalinas’ second CD “Fly To The Sun” arrives.
Like the debut this album was also recorded at Andy LaRoque’s Los Angered Studios and features some truly impressive guest artists, At Vance vocalist Rick Altzi takes over the microphone duties while current Yngwie Malmsteen rhythm section Patrik Johansson on drums and Mick Cervino (latter also in Violent Storm) on bass guitar support the proceedings. Add to this guitar maestros Chris Caffery (Savatage) and Andy LaRocque deliver some killer solos throughout.
Title track opens the game and is a convincing tune. Catchy main riff carries the song along. “Never Seen Before” is up next, with somewhat 1980’s sounding chorus. “Bad Dreams” is a notch heavier with grinding guitar work and solid vocals. A short instrumental “Back From The Light” with its acoustic refrain is an interesting change in pace. My personal favourite track at the moment follows this quickly; “No Matter What” with particularly great melodies and atmosphere.
The latter part of the album has some more laid back numbers such as “The Healer Talks” giving record some breathing space after heavier, faster songs delivered in the beginning – although most of these songs have their metal spots as well. The final track ”Seasons In The Sand” features keyboard guru Derek Sherinian and is a dramatic piece with different moods and scopes, sounds of waves and birds setting the scene before gentle rhythm takes over Sherinian’s excellent playing naturally dominating all the way. Perfect way to end the album.
As a conclusion it must be said riffs and melody lines here are impressive throughout. A lot of times with these kind of releases, you might nod your head enthusiastically during the first listen but afterwards tend not to remember anything about the songs. “Fly To The Sun” however contains plenty of melodies and guitar riffs guaranteed to remain in your head. Actually I could have even brought up the heavy x-factor a bit more, but this is a minor thing.
As there are countless bands making rounds in the power metal scene at the moment, it is refreshing to listen to songs with variation. Not just the usual super fast double bass drumming packed with couple of ballads. Plus the song writing is definitely on a better level here. Some excellent melodies, solid musicianship and clear traces of their own character should propel this band to a further success soon!
1. Fly To The Sun
2. Never Seen Before
3. Bad Dreams
4. Back From The Light
5. No Matter What
6. As The Rain Falls
7. Double Cross
8. Ring Of Fire
9. The Wrong Side Of Me
10. Shadows In The Rain
11. The Healer Talks
12. Seasons In The Sand