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Journey - Trial By Fire CD (album) cover




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2.54 | 72 ratings

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2 stars After a ten-year gap Journey's classic 1980s line-up reconvened to produce this highly-anticipated 'comeback' album, the seeds of discontent sown by vocalist Steve Perry's 1987 defection seemingly buried deep in the past. With Perry augmented by Neal Schon(guitar, vocals), Ross Valory(bass), Jonathan Cain(keyboards, vocals) and Steve Smith(drums), 'Trial By Fire' is very much an attempt to repeat former glories, though sadly and like many returning heroes the fact remains that Journey's time has very much been-and-gone. You have to go way back to 1981 to find the last worthwhile Journey album and that - 'Escape' - was a stone-cold classic, branded by many as the pinnacle of the AOR genre. Follow-up efforts 'Frontiers'(1983) and 'Raised On Radio'(1986) proved popular amongst fans yet were very much products of their time, now sounding even more dated than the group's mainly excellent 1970s material and sorely lacking the creative input of original keyboardist Gregg Rolie. His replacement, former Baby's member Cain, initially proved to be an inspired choice, his commercial nous, melodic instincts and canny ability to produce catchy and emotive hooks the main creative power behind the enormous and long-lasting success of 'Escape'. However, his influence proved to be short-lived. And like both 'Frontiers' and 'Raised On Radio', 1996's 'Trial By Fire' proved to be something of a damp squid. The real problem is that Journey in their heyday were perfectly suited to the musical environment around them. They practically invented soft-rock, a style that has no place in the grunge-dominated 1990s, and here their music sounds forced and formulaic. The ballads prove dull and mawkish, the rockier numbers horribly over-produced, a slick sheen of sentimentality glazing the brittle riffs. The misty, slow-burning 'Colours Of The Spirit' and the semi-muscular arena rock of the title-track aside, 'Trial By Fire' proves somewhat disappointingly that the good times will stay where they belong: in the past. Journey were a great, great band in their pomp, their first three albums - 'Journey'(1975), 'Look Into The Future'(1976), 'Next'(1977) - and the likes of 'Infinity'(1978), 'Departure'(1979), 'Dream After Dream'(1980) and 'Escape' testament to their enduring appeal. Sadly, the undemanding 'Trial By Fire' fails to ignite in the same way.


stefro | 2/5 |


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