March 6, 2023

First Signal began life as a project back in 2010 put together by Harry Hess, the most distinctive and admired vocalist with the Canadian rock band Harem Scarem, and bassist, producer and singer Dennis Ward of Pink Cream 69, Khymera and now Magnum acclaim. This was done when Harem Scarem was on something of a hiatus with former Harem Scarem member Darren Smith on backing vocals, Chris Schmidt on drums, Michael Klein on guitar and Eric Ragno on keyboards. Together, they produced a stunning melodic hard rock album with plenty of great guitar from Klein and the usual impeccable vocals from Hess.

We then had to wait a further 6 years for the next instalment with One Step Over The Line now just featuring just Hess from the original team but the replacements were exceptional with Michael Palace (Palace) on guitar and bass with the multi-faceted talents of Daniel Flores (Murder Of My Sweet) on drums and keyboards. Line Of Fire then followed in 2019 very much remaining within the AOR remit with Palace and Flores retained and Johan Niemann coming in on bass duties. Closer To The Edge then came last year and it was yet another change in personnel with Hess and Flores now combining with Andi Kravljaca on guitar and Jonny Trobro on bass yet the names may have changed but the smooth and fluid melodic rock direction continued unabated.

Very rapidly, First Signal has now put out album number five with Face Your Fears and as perhaps should be expected we now have another team of musicians supporting Hess with Marco Pastorino on guitar, Michele Guaitoli on bass and guitar with Marco Andreetto on drums. I leave it to you to decide if First Signal is a bona fide band or simply a project with Hess making use of the musicians available on the Frontiers roster. For sure, quality AOR is guaranteed but I feel it would be much neater if the band could keep some stability so that the musicians could develop together making for an organic growth between then so that they develop a real rapport. This is not a criticism of the music which is, of course, first class melodic rock but I always like to see a band keeping the same team together for that extra special camaraderie.

If you are aware of Hess then you will know that he is a first class singer with a distinctive voice and thrilling delivery which is ideally suited to harder edged melodic rock so if you are into bands like Harem Scarem, Magnum and Ten then you will fully appreciate what First Signal has served up for us all here. Everything falls perfectly into the stadium rock category with Hess and band giving impeccable performances on the material that ranges from power ballads to full on hard rock and all with that underlying melodic core that Hess has made a fine career of delivering.

Face Your Fears

  1. Unbreakable (3:32)
  2. Situation Critical (4:01)
  3. Shoot The Bullet (4:03)
  4. Always Be There (4:08)
  5. Dominoes (3:52)
  6. Rain For Your Roses (4:01)
  7. Face Your Fears (3:51)
  8. Never Gonna Let You Go (3:54)
  9. Not This Time (4:20)
  10. In The Name Of Love (4:37)
  11. Never Be Silenced (3:25)