Once upon a time there was a band called Wickedwitch. Combining the phenomenal talents of the ultimate metal vocalist Zak Stevens with powerful drummer Jeff Plate who would combine with Zak later in Savatage before moving on to Metal Church and Trans Siberian Orchestra, Wickedwitch also included one of the most underrated guitarists in the world of metal, Matt Leff. This band produced some of the most amazing works that you most likely have never heard.
Well now you will get a chance sort of, as the three have reunited and brought Leff's former bandmate Chris Rapoza on board as the bassist of this new supergroup. Matt and Chris were mates in the band Trigger Effect which was named the Best Unsigned Band in the United States by Sam Goody Records. Now, this wealth of talent is ready to unleash upon the public the Machines Of Grace.
With this 13 song debut, the band will give everyone a chance to hear updated versions of some of Wickedwitch's best work along with new music that will firmly establish these guys as one of the most dynamic bands around and one that will be looking down at the others from atop the heavy metal mountain.
When the opening moments of the Wickedwitch classic "Just A Game" hit me at the start of this disc, it became apparent that while these guys were showing all that their roots are well established in the rich history of the band, they are not going to rehash the past, but rewrite it! This rework sets a tone that defines the skill and mastery of the players involved. The golden voice of Zak has found the perfect compliments in the musicians he is surrounded by. Matt will not be the secret weapon on guitar anymore after you hear the work that he does on this song and for that matter, the whole disc. He has a style and melodic sense that not only fits well with the songwriting of Stevens it creates a vibe that will embed itself into your being. Totally infectious melodies with pounding rhythms combine with THE voice of metal to produce an easy pick for one of the albums of the year.
While you will hear traces of all the influences and bands that these guys have come from, (I defy you to not think of Circle II Circle when you hear "Bleed") it is still a total sound that you are going to define as Machines Of Grace. At times very melodic, at times bone crunching metal, even some great acoustic passages, shows how this band captures the spirit of heavy metal and puts a unique stamp on it as only great talent can do.
These guys also know that you do not have to pigeon hole yourself into just one category of music. From the popish metal of "Better Days" with its catchy riffs and sing-a-long chorus to the acoustic version of "This Time" the band shows off the range and broad spectrum that this diverse group of musicians bring to the table. This is rock and roll the way it is meant to be. Great songwriting, lyrically some very poignant moments and a soundscape that is as fulfilling as any you will find today. Songs like "Breakdown", hit ready "Fly Away" and the stunning "The Moment" are all going to be constant companions as each of these songs are so powerful that they will blister your finger as you hit the repeat button. Good old fashion rock and roll from a group of guys who are as good at it as you will ever find!
When I think of the bands that have been called supergroups, I have to laugh as there is few that have the power or scope as what you have with Machines Of Grace. I have to hand it to Zak, Matt, Jeff and Chris, they have pulled off what so many could only hope to do. They have assembled a group that is even better than their individual parts. I cannot wait to hear more from them. There has been more recorded that what is on this disc. Some songs that are being held for possible foreign release and a number of other Wickedwitch tunes that didn't make it on here. So, there is more to come….and I imagine much more after this disc hits the ears of the public.
1. Just A Game
3. Fly Away
5. The Moment
6. Between The Lines
7. This Time
9. Soul To Fire
12. Better Days
13. This Time (Acoustic)