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February 17, 2009
REVELATION should bookmark one of the most challenging chapters of Journey's legendary career. Instead, the new album offers a lasting testament to Journey's legacy, and a striking glimpse of their brilliant future.
The first album with lead vocalist Arnel Pineda, REVELATION is Journey running on no less than twelve cylinders, a fine-tuned offering that sounds every bit like a band hitting their stride. Yet Pineda hadn't even joined the band when the album's first songs were written in mid-2007, and founding guitarist Neal Schon is quick to admit, it wasn't always easy to stay optimistic when the band wasn't sure what the future held.
"I was getting frustrated with not having a singer, but still wanted to move forward and knew that we had a big year in front of us. There were times I got frustrated, but I never lost hope," recalls Schon. "I wanted a guy that could convey the classic songs with a similar texture to his voice, and a tenor voice, but someone who puts his own spin on it. Which is exactly what Arnel does."
Pineda's discovery is already etched into Journey's lifelong musical history, as Schon scouted literally hundreds of singers via online video website YouTube before finding the band's new frontman. "When I heard Arnel, I knew I had found our singer and immediately called management," says Schon. "Next, I call Cain. And before we knew it, Arnel was on his way to the U.S. to audition. By the third day of full rehearsals with the band, it was a slam-dunk. Then, we proceeded into the studio where Arnel sang six Journey songs in one day. He sounded simply amazing. I looked at Cain and said, 'there he is. This is our guy.'" Cain agreed.
Between the two of them, Schon and Cain penned all 11 of the new tracks on REVELATION. There is no lack of chemistry in Journey, beginning with the songwriting core of Schon and Cain. "I felt strongly about moving forward and writing new material. It was time," Schon states. Schon then put the call into Cain and started the song writing process which has now become the album, REVELATION. "There's an innate trust and respect for what we each do as we weave our way through this music," says Cain. Schon adds, "In the alphabet, I might be a Z and Jonathan the A, that's just how opposite we are musically sometimes. I write mostly rock and Jonathan writes most of the ballads, but when you combine the chemistry of us together, you'll find that it is the nucleus and sound of what is and has been Journey. And now, with the right voice in place, we have all the right ingredients." Cain adds, "We've been doing this for so long together, we both know what we want to hear, and we both know what works for the band." Neal agrees. "By now I think we should be able to do it in our sleep."
"Never Walk Away" kicks REVELATION off with the resilient air and upbeat optimism fans have come to expect from Journey, a melody-soaked and guitar-driven anthem sure to ignite the live circuit just as it lights up the new release. The heartwarming sentiment offered by "Like a Sunshower" gives a more poetic and reflective look at relationships. It's an uncharacteristic ballad from the more hard rock-inclined Schon. There's even an instrumental, "The Journey Revelation)," at the request of Producer Kevin Shirley, who returns to the fold after working with the band on TRIAL BY FIRE (1996) and ARRIVAL (2000), the band's first instrumental since DEPARTURE (1980) and EVOLUTION (1979). "This is a special song for me," Schon says of the sprawling track, "it was extremely gratifying to express myself on my instrument in this way." This is a great performance from everyone in the band and truly a majestic track.
Lead singer Pineda still does plenty of head turning of his own throughout the new recordings, as well as the 11 classic hits that the band re-recorded as the second disc of the three-disc set. The third disc is a live concert DVD, Pineda's fourth show with Journey, recorded in Las Vegas in March 2008.
"It's so exciting to sing with one of the best bands in the world," says Pineda. "It'll be a lot of hard work on my part, and I'm actually looking forward to the scrutiny I'll get from the hardcore Journey fans. I know they'll expect me to sound exactly like 'the voice,' but that will never happen. I know there's only one Steve Perry in this world." While that may be the case, Pineda breathes new life into the band's heralded catalog, from the soaring stretches of "Only The Young" and the full vibrato that introduces the small town girl and city boy from South Detroit in "Don't Stop Believin'," to the pristine tones of "Open Arms" and "Faithfully" and the driving rhythm of "Separate Ways."
"Not only can he cover our old material, but he's such a diversified performer that it leaves everything wide open to where we can go," marveled Schon of his new singer. "He's got tremendous abilities and he's an outstanding performer, which people will soon find out."
Not to be outdone, every member of Journey shines on REVELATION. Cain's keyboards elevate "After All These Years" to new emotional heights. "What I Needed" is a power ballad, driven by heavy guitars, reminiscent of the early Journey that so many bands have modeled themselves after. Deen Castronovo drums up a frenzy during the hard-driving rock song, "Wildest Dream." The talented Castronovo also sings most of the high harmonies heard throughout the album, proving that not only is he an amazing drummer, but he's a dynamic vocalist as well. Schon's smoking guitars rip through this track with a cool, eastern flavor. Bassist Ross Valory is steady throughout, a stabilizing force through the albums more driven highs and heartfelt lows.
REVELATION: The album to look for. The future looks bright once again.