(8/10) Joel Hoekstra is a name you should have heard already earlier. The American guitarist is part of the current Whitesnake line-up and he also played and plays with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. But next to all those time-demanding activities the six-stringer found some time to release a new solo project.
Joel Hoekstra's 13 is the name of the band/project for which the guitarist could hire some well-known musicians for contributing to "Dying to Live". Jeff Scott Soto and Russell Allen are sharing the vocals, Tony Franklin is on bass while drum legend Vinnie Appce completes the rhythm section of Joel Hoekstra's 13. And on keyboard we have Derek Sherinian, who celebtrated already big successes with Dream Theater, Black Country Communion and Billy Idol.
The album, that these guys recorded is an impressive melange of powerful hardrock and metal. "Say Goodbye to the Sun" is the metallic opener and it's the first blast on this longplayer. Rough and raunchy by still being melodic - those are the characteristics of this cool piece of music. The next tune "Anymore" doesn't give you time to breathe either. Even though the track is less heavy it's still a grooving hardrocker that is well done.
In total, the album comes with eleven of these hardrock smashers. Highlights for me are the monster groover "Scream" that brings back 80's memories; days when bands like Dokken have had their peak. The chorus of "Scream" is just a killer.
The fascinating part of this album is this constant change between hardrock and metal that is so seamless that that entire longplayer still stands like a rock. "Dying to Live" is one of those more melodic metal tracks. It comes with a great interplay of slower guitar solo parts and the fast chorus.
On top of all this also the ballad is a really good one too. "Changes" could be one of Foreigner's megaseller ballads. It's a soulful tune with a lot of sense for good melodies that transport pure emotion - something a good ballad is supposed to do.
Also the boarder to AOR is crossed on "Dying to Live". "Start Again" is the title of this more rock-based track that is well-crafted too. However, I have to say that it's a bit too sticky when I compare it with the rest.
Joel Hoekstra's 13 releases with "Dying to Live" an excellent melodic rock album that you should check, if you're a fan of bands like Foreigner, Whitesnake and Night Ranger.
- Say Goodbye to the Sun
- Until I Left You
- Long For the Days
- Never Say Never
- The Only Way to Go
- Dying to Live
- Start Again
- What We Believe
Label: Frontiers Music
Genre: Melodic Metal
Release Date EU: October 16th, 2015