I remember when Deen Castronovo hit the scene as the drummer for Wild Dogs, and later, Dr. Mastermind, Cacophony, and Tony MacAlpine. This was long before he joined bands like Bad English, Hardline, and eventually Journey. We knew he was a great drummer, but who knew he was a great singer as well? But as he began to step out into the vocal spotlight in bands like Gioeli-Castronovo, Tourniquet, and Restless Spirits – and sometimes Journey – we knew there was a lot of vocal talent there.
Well, the music industry took notice too. Serafino Perugino (President of Frontiers Records) purposely created the “super group” Revolution Saints to highlight Deen’s vocal talents. The music harkens back to the classic stylings of 80’s and 90’s melodic rock / AOR, with soaring melodies, positive emotional energy, and captivating hooks. All combined with the advantages of 21st century production and musical techniques.
So far, the band has been relatively successful. So much so, that “Against The Winds” is the band’s fifth album in 9 years. The album is also the second with bassist Jeff Pilson (Dokken, Foreigner, The End Machine) and guitarist Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake, Night Ranger, Iconic, TSO). They joined the band for the 2023 album “Eagle Flight,” in place of the departing Jack Blades (Night Ranger, Damn Yankees) and guitarist Doug Aldrich (Lion, Whitesnake, Dio).
The fourth member of this group is multi-instrumentalist Alessandro Del Vecchio (Lionville, Hardline, Sunstorm, etc.), who acts as producer, keyboardist, back-up vocalist, and songwriter. He wrote or co-wrote most of the material on “Against The Winds.”
The album starts off powerfully. Echoing drums, haunting keyboard swells and a catchy guitar riff introduce the title track, one of the best songs on the album, and one of their best songs ever. The Journey and Survivor vibes are apparent, but what is also apparent is that this music is more intense, more forceful – all while maintaining that tricky balance between hard rock energy and catchy, radio-ready melodies. All the instruments and vocals sound sharp, although I cannot always discern what Deen is singing without a lyric sheet. Not surprisingly for the genre, many of the lyrics seem to center around relationships – lost, found, longed for, etc.
The next track “Changing My Mind” is the first single and one of the few slower songs with more drawn-out melodies. It is a “story song” about a man and woman who meet one day, sparks fly, and they agree to meet in a year because…oops, they are committed to others. Musically it is a great song with a catchy chorus, but the lyrical implication that the meeting leads to potential cheating and/or the break-up of 2 families is something that I feel mars an otherwise very classy song. From there the album moves ahead with a mixture of high energy rockers and just two more slower songs.
Highlights include the title track, “Will I See You Again,” “Can’t End It Right Now,” “Divine Wings,” and “No Turning Back.” My absolute favorite here is “Lost In Damnation,” a driving, memorable arena rock tune that has instant appeal.
Some of the songwriting and lyrics are on the average and predictable side, but all songs are performed exceedingly well. The stellar abilities of each band member come across with conviction, skill, and passion. The drums, piano, and singing…everything is top shelf. Jeff Pilson has some great bass lines, and Joel Hoekstra churns out plenty of intricate but melodic shredding that fit well with the music.
Overall, despite any shortcomings I find “Against The Winds” to be their best and most cohesive album yet. It did require a few spins before certain songs made an impression, because their similarity in tone and pace made it challenging to distinguish them from each other. But after spending a lot of time with the album, everything seemed to fall into place in a fresh sort of way.
If someone were new to Revolution Saints, I would recommend starting with “Against The Winds.” And for the people who may have overlooked or even dismissed the band in the past, I would say there is enough here to consider another listen if you are into melodic rock / AOR with a modern sheen and retro feel.
Reviewer Rating: 8/10
Set for Release on February 9, 2024 Pre-Order HERE
‘Against the Winds’ Track List:
- Against the Winds
- Changing My Mind
- Fall on My Knees
- Can’t End It Right Now
- Lost in Damnation
- Will I See You Again
- Show Me Your Light
- Save All That Remains
- Been Said and Done
- Diving Wings
- No Turning Back
REVOLUTION SAINTS are:
Alessandro Del Vecchio