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Mecca - 'Undeniable' (frontiers) 4.5/5

Back in 2002 the debut album from Mecca caused a bit of a stir in melodic rock and AOR circles, then since the band finished a lengthy road trip in 2005 the band have been strangely quiet, to the extent that some fans were on the verge of sending out search parties. However Mecca had not been abducted by aliens or been victims of an ill advised boat trip into the Bermuda Triangle. They had in fact been ensconced way in darkened rehearsal rooms and recording studios slaving away on new material. And now at last they have finally got around to issuing this their second album.

So was the wait worth it? Now I gotta admit I can be quite cynical when it comes to stadium rock and AOR. After all my taste for this sort of stuff was formed in the heady days when the likes of Toto, Boston, Journey, Foreigner, Saga and the likes were experiencing their finest hours, so the bar in my mind has been set very very high, and I tend to be a bit down on anything that doesn't match those exacting standards.

However against all expectations I am finding Undeniable a very enjoyable listen indeed, even if the over all sound is a little Mr. Mister, a band I never got on with back in the day. Vocalist Joe Vana has a sweet voice that reminds me of Totos Bobby Kimball in his heyday and his son Joey on the guitar is a fair talent that has hints of Boston main man Tom Scholtz  in his playing.

It think its the fact that this material has been six years in the making is the real pay off here. Even the power ballads, of which there are several on show come over as interesting listens. Just take the sublimely subtle picked riff on Deceptive Cadence or the crisp and crunchy backing on Did It For Love as a couple of examples, these are tracks that are well thought through, not by the numbers work outs thrown together.

In other places the intelligent interplay of instruments and the texture of the soundscapes on offer are pretty noteworthy. Numbers like From The Start, with its great twin lead section, the soaring title track and the riff heavy Closing Time with its quirky and restrained synth motif all hold the attention throughout. And all truly great AOR records should have a true rock out number, and this one is no exception, for we have W2W a number that kicks off with a riff that wouldn't sound out of place on a Kiss album and a seriously cool widdle and shred solo (no kidding!!), and blends them into a song that sounds like Boston at their best.

In short there is not a weak moment on offer here, and this is an album that I know will stand the test of time.

Very Highly Recommended

For fans of... Boston, Toto, Mr Mister, Journey, Saga etc...

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