Sea Of Tranquility

The Web Source for Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal & Jazz-Fusion
  Search   in       
Main Menu

John Macaluso & Union Radio: The Radio Waves Goodbye

John Macaluso is one of the most respected drummers in rock. He has played on close to 200 albums, including on the highly acclaimed Ark albums, Yngwie Malmsteen's Alchemy, and TNT's Realized Fantasies. Obviously, this has helped him get some of progressive metal's finest musicians on his first solo album, which he set out to make the best ever album of his career.

The list of singers appearing on the album is stunning. From Dream Theater's James Labrie to Riot's Mike Dimeo and the new Ark vocalist Adrian Holtz, the vocal performance on the whole record is nothing short of jaw-dropping. The disc begins with the Labrie-sung "Soul in Your Mind", whose overall flow recalls Dream Theater circa Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence thanks to Vitalij Kuprij's atmospheric keyboard contributions. Macaluso's drumming is central on this song, and is arguably among his greatest performances ever. Kuprij weaves moody synth lines around the drums and a thudding bass figure while Labrie sings aggressively, leaving plenty of space for both a synth and guitar solo respectively.

Ark came to a halt when Jorn Lande left the band after 2001's amazing Burn the Sun, still among prog metal's greatest offerings. Many fans questioned whether Macaluso and Ostby could find a replacement, but despite numerous rumours, nothing much came of it. Finally, Macaluso introduces the new Ark singer Adrian Holtz (with whom they were planning to cut a new CD before shelving the idea). Holtz' vocals are incredible -- he is a monster singer and is poised to become my discovery for new voice of the year. Possessing a brilliant midrange tone, he has the ability to shift from smooth, delicate phrases to soaring screams without overdoing it. He sings on five of the songs, all of which are amazing in different ways.

Obvious reference points while describing this truly progressive metal disc would be Pink Floyd's psychedelic parts blended with the gripping melodic edge of Ark and the hallmarks of instrumental music. "The Prayer Pill" and "Dissolved", arguably the best songs on the album, are both delivered by Holtz. Both pieces are more keyboard-dominated than guitar; dark-toned synth patches cover Holtz' indelible vocal melodies, supported by sweet back-up singing courtesy of Donna and Laura Macaluso. "Dissolved" boasts modern keyboard effects drilled into the mix, juxtaposed with some Middle Eastern flavour, and is carried by jazzified soundscapes and an eerie blend of psychedelic guitars and funky bass groove. The production of this song is totally mindblowing -- perhaps the best I've heard on a Lion Music artist.

Riot and Masterplan singer Mike Dimeo's unique vocal style should also be attributed to this album's success. There are only a handful vocalists who are capable of singing any style this perfectly, and Dimeo is one of them. Vitalij Kuprij's somewhat electronic snynth intro on "Mother Illusion" is so progressive and different from 98% of music out there that I'd never believe a singer like Mike Dimeo would be asked to sing on it. This guy is simply unbelievable, and actually reminds me a good deal of Jorn Lande. Despite never picking up pace, it feels especially tailored for him, and Macaluso's kick drum tones are still unmatched. Dimeo also sings on "Gates to Bridges", which also features Savatage guitarist Chris Caffery ripping it up, but Kuprij's laidback, mood-intensive playing saves the piece from being a typical hard rocker.

On the guitarist front, besides Chris Caffery, John Macaluso has also hooked up with the rising force Marco Sfogli, whose work on James Labrie's Elements of Persuasion blew everyone away. Sfogli first weaves dense acoustic guitars on the Floydian cut "Shimmering Grey"; and then shows us the real deal when he injects a searing guitar force on the seven-minute instrumental "T-34". Having heard this song like a dozen times on repeat, I can't help but wish Macaluso would release another solo disc, all instrumental this time. It is the absolutely inspired songwriting that sets this piece apart from hundreds others; there are dazzling synths, pianos, octopus drumming, and of course the godly Marco Sfogli on this song.

If you, like me, always hoped to hear a full-blown drum solo by Macaluso, for a good four minutes, "Pretzel" is going to be your song. The dialogue between the young girl and John in the intro is hilarious, and pokes fun at all those fans who tend to go to the bathroom during shows while the drummer cuts it loose. It is one long yet totally disciplined drum solo by one of rock's best. Period. Being a solo album, Macaluso also sings lead vocals on one song, the totally jazzy "The Six Foot Under Happy Man", but I wouldn't really consider it among the album's strongest cuts. What I, however, must mention is Dimuti, who is credited as guitarist, keyboardist, and bassist on various songs, and every time I was blown away by something and checked out who it was, I came across his name. I bet lots of prog fans will want to check him out if they're unfamiliar with him.

Another high point of the CD is "Things You Should Not Know", again featuring Adrian Holtz at the helm, and if anything on the new Ark CD is going to be in this vein, everyone be prepared to be blown away. It features some nice flute melody, cool Kuprij acrobatics, phenomenal drumming, and face-ripping guitar work by Alex Masi, another Lion Music artist. Speaking of which, Lion Music reminds me a lot of Magna Carta in the 90's (remember when they were still a cool label?) where every musician would guest on each other's albums, and add their own signature to the compositions. This disc reminds me a lot of that -- and it contains striking melodic strength with top-notch musicianship without overstepping the limits of the compositions.

Lyrically, the album seems to explore themes of religion, the occult, and spirituality; but fear not, there is nothing preachy here. In fact, the airy keyboards, creepy sound structures, and somewhat spacey overall vibes unite seamlessly with the subject matter discussed.

This is going to be a top release of 2007. Highly recommended.

Track Listing

  1. Soul in Your Mind
  2. Mother Illusion
  3. The Prayer Pill
  4. Dissolved
  5. Gates to Bridges
  6. Shimmering Grey
  7. T-34
  8. Staring "Pain"
  9. Pretzel
  10. Yesterday I'll Understand
  11. The Six Foot Under Happy Man
  12. Things You Should Not Know
  13. Away with Words

Added: June 12th 2007
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: John Macaluso website
Hits: 8408
Language: english

[ Printer Friendly Page Printer Friendly Page ]
[ Send to a Friend Send to a Friend ]


[ Back to the Reviews Index | Post Comment ]

» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

John Macaluso & Union Radio: The Radio Waves Goodbye
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-06-12 07:56:47
My Score:

It's very rare that a progressive metal album offers up something unique, especially from a new band. John Macaluso is a well respected musician in the drum community, and has been for many years, but with the release of The Radio Waves Goodbye, all that is surely about to change, as the drum virtuoso has put together an all-star cast of heavyweights here that have created some truly enjoyable and diverse music.

First and foremost, John's drum work on this CD is truly remarkable, probably the best he has ever recorded, and surprisingly enough, he relies less on thunderous metal trappings and more on jazz, fusion, and prog intricacies. His layered stick work creates plenty of tones and colors on tunes like "Soul In Your Mind", "Away With Words", "Shimmering Grey", and "T-34"; so much so that you are left in awe at the virtuoso display, even if you are not a drummer. The cast of singers here are well placed, those being Dream Theater's James LaBrie (who adds his talents to the great "Soul In Your Mind"), Riot/The Lizards/Masterplan legend Mike Dimeo, Don Chaffin, and amazing new find Adrian Holtz. Keyboard maestro Vitalij Kuprij (Artension/Ring of Fire) also joins the fray, as well as guitarists Chris Caffery, Marco Sfogli, Larry Meyer, Jack Frost, Dimutri, and bassist Randy Coven,among others.

There's plenty of acrobatic progressive metal here, but never do things get overly heavy, and despite the amazing collection of musicians here this is not a "chops for chops sake" release, but a great ensemble work. Listen to the nimble jazz tones, including some snappy horns, on "The Six Foot Under Happy Man", and Holtz's commanding pipes leading the charge on the powerful "The Prayer Pill". Dimeo proves he is one of the most underrated singer in heavy rock, as he unleashes his melodic yet aggressive snarl on quility tunes "Mother Illusion" and "Gates to Bridges".

The Radio Waves Goodbye is filled with awesome drum work, ripping guitars, oodles of keyboards, powerful vocals, and just good, varied songwriting. After the world gets a chance to hear this CD, Macaluso is going to have to consider making Union Radio a permanent and solidified band, as fans are certain to want more of this.

» Reader Comments:

John Macaluso & Union Radio: The Radio Waves Goodbye
Posted by Jimi Van Malmsteen on 2007-05-30 11:36:51
My Score:

Couldn't agree more, this album hasn't left my stereo since its release last week, really unique original prog metal.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
For information regarding where to send CD promos and advertising, please see our FAQ page.
If you have questions or comments, please Contact Us.
Please see our Policies Page for Site Usage, Privacy, and Copyright Policies.

All logos and trademarks in this site are property of their respective owner. The comments are property of their posters, all other content Sea of Tranquility

SoT is Hosted by