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Westworld: Skin

Tony Harnell, the golden-voiced singer perhaps best known for his role in the Eighties hair band TNT (remember "10,000 Lovers"?), expanded his horizons in the late-Nineties with a project called Westworld. Formed with members of Rainbow, Riot and Danger Danger, the band’s sound bridged hook-laden arena rock and intricate progressive metal. But Westworld’s impressive 1999 self-titled debut made little impact commercially — the result of poor marketing by Spitfire Records. Consequently, a much darker second album, Skin, never received a proper U.S. release until recently (by Dreamscape Music Group). But it was worth the wait.

Skin is moodier than the debut, with a more modern sound — use TNT’s last studio album, 1999’s Transistor, as a reference point — and it exposes Westworld’s musical dexterity. Guitarist Mark Reale wraps chunky chords and romping riffs around minor-key melodies ("Ice Queen") and epic anthems ("Black Shadow Symphony"), while the rhythm section of bass player Bruno Ravel and drummer John O’Reilly sounds particularly tight on heavier tunes like the title track, "Tomorrow’s Yesterday" and "Get A Life."

Harnell still can belt out a song with clear voice and soaring range — especially when performing ballads ("Limbo") and mid-tempo rockers ("Uneasy") — although I wouldn’t really want to hear him try singing "Everyone’s A Star" from TNT’s 1987 album, Tell No Tales. That said, don’t listen for Harnell to falter on the high notes of Alanis Morissette’s "Uninvited," — the decidedly non-metal, non-progressive song that closes Skin. Westworld’s Middle Eastern-tinged version of that song opens up new possibilities for this band, which arguably has become a stronger unit than the players’ individual groups these days.

Added: August 5th 2002
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Westworld Web Site
Hits: 3850
Language: english

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