Mike Botello is essentially a one-man band — writing, singing, producing and playing everything (save electric guitar) on his latest album, Rule of Law. And this album is essentially a do-it-yourself project that falls victim to grand ambition, weak production and typos in the track listing. But if you can look past that, the disc offers a diverse range of styles, with Botello comfortably shifting gears from rock to metal to Christian pop.
His affected voice (often lost in the mix) may be a listening liability early on, but that changes as the album progresses. "Matador (The Adversary)" and "Creatures ("Obvious)" boast a bit of a Queensr˙che vibe as Botello channels Geoff Tate, "Tug of War (The Battle)" shows potential as a prog-rock epic, and "The Rule of Law (The Price)" and "Do What Thou Wilt ("Rebellion)" are pure headbangers. On the softer "Angel of Light (The Deception)," Botello echoes John Schlitt, vocalist for Petra, a now-defunct Christian band. Meanwhile, electric guitarist Jason Barrett leaves a grand impression, with solos that kick many of these songs up a notch or two.
Botello's lyrics have a Christian slant, although he writes in the liner notes that "you can say I've lost my faith in the church and our judicial system, but definitely not my Lord Jesus." The man is no Neal Morse, but his heart and soul seem to be in the right place. A stronger producer (and proofreader) should make Botello's next album even better.
1) Cycles (Intro)
2) Matador (The Adversary)
3) Beyond (Pride)
4) Ever After You (Salvation)
5) Tug of War (The Battle)
6) Creatures (Obvious)
7) The Rule of Law (The Price)
8) Do What Thou Wilt (Rebellion)
9) Angel of Light (The Deception)
10) The Morning's Never Gonna Come (The Trap)
11) Run to Me (Repentance)