Neal Grusky and company return for a 5th outing with the release of Invitation to Forever. With a new line-up including lead singer Gus Monsanto, the band seems ready to tackle the world. In the annals of rock and roll there is always a place for a band with the keen sense of melody and musical ability that Takara shows on this album.
With this album, Takara seems to take on a heavier feel while still retaining the radio friendly melodic structure of previous offerings. Neal really lets loose on this disc with his trusty Fender and the results show just how he can make his guitar sing with as much authority as Gus does at times! A prime example is the terrific guitar solo on the album opener "Angel Of Lies" where he shows some very Malmsteen like qualities. Maybe it's rubbing off from bassist Bjorn Englen and drummers Patrick Johannson's previous work with Yngwie. He also delivers another dynamic solo in the middle of the very lush and bombastic "Final Warning" where the keyboards and orchestration make this one of the real treats.
Takara takes a trip back to the 80's with the very lighthearted "555". With its sing-a-long chorus and terrific harmonies you will be thinking back to the days when Journey ruled the airwaves. Having Jeff Scott Soto as the backing singer can't hurt in that aspect. "This Story Has To Be Told" will also appeal to fans of this genre. Both are great songs for that summer cruise with the top down and the wind in your face!
One of the heavier songs in their repertoire has to be "Place Under The Sun". That one along with "Riders On The Road" and "Nowhere To Run" show the new direction of the band with each of them having a bit more attitude than you are accustom to with Takara. By no means is this a bad thing though, in fact this makes for some of the most appealing music on the disc. Monsanto has a voice that has such range and dynamics that he can pull off most anything that the band wants to play and he is well suited for all the avenues that they go down on this album. I think he could sing the phone book and make it sound good!
Taken on a whole, this album is a fine addition to the Takara catalogue. In fact, it ranks as one of their best since the early days with Jeff Scott Soto fronting them. If you are a fan already, you will not be disappointed. If you are a newcomer to Takara then this is as good a place as any to start. Just be prepared for an upbeat disc that will have you remembering those days of your youth when bands were not concerned with having to be the heaviest one around and things like melody and harmony were good things! This makes Invitation To Forever a very enjoyable disc.
1. Angel Of Lies
2. Final Warning
5. Riders On The Road
6. This Story Has To Be Told
7. Place Under The Sun
8. Still A Mystery
9. Looking for Salvation
10. This Photograph
11. I Can't Hold On
12. Nowhere To Run