There is a plentiful supply of quality AOR around at the moment with new music coming from a variety of bands ranging from the giants of those halcyon days of the ’70s and ’80s, so-called ‘newer’ groups who came onto the scene around the millennium through to the brand new acts who seem to delight on building their sound on a platform laid down by those early giants but refreshed to give a modern take on the genre.
The American outfit Mecca falls neatly in the millennial category and melodic rocks fans may or should recall their trio of albums with Mecca from 2002, Undeniable from 2011 and III from 2016 with Frontiers combining them all in a neat three CD package (with several bonus tracks) that was put out last year. All three albums are perfect examples of smooth, slick and glossy AOR and if bands like Toto, Journey, REO Speedwagon and Survivor are regulars on your music player then Mecca is a name that you definitely need to add to your list.
The bands roots go back to Chicago when a very young Joe Vana had a chance meeting with AOR legend Jim Peterik of Survivor and he gave him help and advice that was to stand him in good stand in later years especially when some 15-years after their first encounter he joined forces with Peterik on songwriting duties to form Project Voyager which subsequently morphed into Mecca. There is a distinct Toto vibe to the band which is understandable given that the self-titled debut featured a couple of former Toto musicians in bassist David Hungate and Fergie Frederiksen on vocals alongside Joe Vana. The vocals were rich and sumptuous with Vana and the golden voiced Frederiksen forming a formidable team although it was a totally different Mecca which released album number two nine-years later with a more keyboard driven perspective and Vana as sole singer. Fast forward to the third album and another tweak saw several changes and introduced Vana’s son Joey adding to the strong guitar sound although keyboards remained a strong part of the band’s armament.
Last year’s remastered 3CD set has neatly set up Mecca for the latest stage with Everlasting being the band’s fourth record and one that has been eagerly anticipated by the fans with Joe and Joey providing a neat dual vocal aspect to the cultured and class filled sound with the band now filled out by some of the ever-present musicians on the Frontiers roster with Sven Larsson on guitar, Mitia Maccaferri on bass, Alessandro Del Vecchio on keyboards and Mirko De Maio on drums. Of course, with this being Mecca then you can never have enough keyboards with the record featuring several guest musicians all adding to the swathes of melodious keys with Pete Alpenborg, Christopher Börjars, Tommy Denander, Vivien Lalu, Stefano Lionetti and Stefano Mainini all supplying their own moments of magic.
The album has the hand of Del Vecchio all over it especially as he has been heavily involved in the writing process as well as producing but he has a definite love of all things melodic rock and he, the Vana’s and a quality team of musicians have helped to produce another class filled AOR delight. Beautiful keyboards combine with simply stunning and totally emotional guitar from the imperious Sven Larsson to help make this an album to savour and if you a partial to a bit of Giant, Mr. Mister and Toto then this new release will truly amaze.
- And Now The Magic Is Gone (5:10)
- The Rules Of The Heart (4:19)
- I Won’t Walk Away (3:36)
- The Mistakes We Make (2:52)
- These Times Are For Heroes (3:44)
- Your Walls Are Crumbling Down (4:28)
- Everlasting (5:49)
- Falling (3:15)
- Endless Days (3:22)
- Living In Fear (3:27)
- Your Way (5:07)