Album Review — Skills

Skills — Different Worlds

Frontiers Records continues to find new combinations of musicians to create bands. Sometimes the results have been fantastic (see Black Swan). Other times the chemistry just hasn’t been there. But it’s always a good thing to get more music from these classic hard rock musicians.

One approach that the label has taken is to put a younger, talented singer with well known musicians. We saw this with Dirty Shirley when George Lynch was teamed up with Dino Jelusick.

This time it’s three well known musicians in Brad Gillis, Billy Sheehan and David Huff being teamed up with Brazilian vocalist Renan Zonta. Zonta is most known for his work in Electric Mob.

In my view, the most successful of these new supergroups are the ones that write their own songs. With Skills, Sheehan and Gillis don’t have any writing credits which is a bummer. They are both monster players but also accomplished songwriters and to not have any input from them makes me think they aren’t overly invested in the project.

All that being said, this record is a pleasant surprise.

The first thing is Zonta has a great voice. He’s got the elements you want in a hard rock singer. I can see why the label wanted to feature him.

I hear a lot of different influences in the band. As expected, there is some Night Ranger and Mr. Big in there. I hear some classic Deep Purple/Whitesnake at times and also some of the newer bands on the label like Hardline.

I expected to hear more from Gillis and Sheehan. Yes, Gillis does solo on just about every track but I expected him to be featured a little more. And when you have Billy Sheehan I would think you would make sure to emphasize him. He’s definitely there, especially on “Blame It On The Night”, but I wanted more.

For me, the band does its best work in the more melodic tracks. The second half of the record contains the majority of these songs. They are all mostly mid-tempo rockers with catchy choruses.

I need some more time with this record to see if these songs stick, but I think there’s a missed opportunity here. Gillis and Sheehan are two of the most recognizable players in hard rock. When you hear them you know it’s them. But I don’t get a lot of that here. Sheehan has a few runs that standout and the guitar work is quite good, but it doesn’t really sound like either of them, at least after my initial listens.

Zonta certainly can sing and I expect we will hear more from him. And if that’s the goal of this record, then mission accomplished. But I think this could have been more. I’d be interested to know if Gillis and Sheehan were even in the same room during this process. I have to imagine if those two really collaborated we would get something a little more creative. They sound more like hired studio musicians than part of the creative process.

There are some good songs here and Zonta sings them well. It will be interesting to see if this is a one-off deal or if the band eventually creates more music. I’m inclined to think it’s the latter, but we will see.

I couldn’t decide on 85 or 90 for this record. But the band name was the deciding factor.

85 out of 100

Track Listing

- Escape Machine
- Blame It On The Night
- Different Worlds*
- Losing The Track
- Writings On The Wall
- Show Me The Way*
- Just When I Needed You
- Need To Fall*
- Stop The World
- Hearts Of Stone*
- Don’t Break My Heart *

*Best Songs

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