Review: Escape – Fire In The Sky
AOR Heaven (April 30th 2021)
Reviewer: Jason Hopper
Escape return after a long hiatus to present their third album ‘Fire In The Sky‘. These songs may be familiar to those who have followed the band and Escape’s guitarist Vince O’Regan in various projects. While these are not new songs, they all have been re-recorded by the band. If you are familiar with these tracks, then you know there are some outstanding tracks on offer here. For those like me unfamiliar with the band, then you are in for a treat.
Upon first listen, I was initially worried when the album began, as first track ‘Lost and Found‘ is one of the weakest tracks on the album. I have no problems with guitars and keyboards sharing the limelight in a band recording, but when one instrument dominates another, as the keyboards dominate the guitar in the chorus, it lessens the overall impact, and that is exactly what happens here. Also of note, singer Graham Beales’ vocals come across as uninspired and bland. Thankfully, this is all corrected with future tracks.
‘Heroes In The Night‘ offers a good representation of what this band typifies in 2021. An inspiring song about not giving up and coming back strong (a message that sums up the tenacity of this band), it’s easy to see why this track was selected as the representative first single.
‘Something To Believe In‘ is another great track that switches from mid-tempo in the verses and picks up the pace with a catchy chorus and an impressive solo from Vince O’Regan. His guitar work is outstanding on this album. Tracks ‘Coming Home‘ and ‘Destiny‘ also feature smoking solos from O’Regan and both songs are some of the best that this album has to offer.
The standout tracks for me are the two previously released Bob Catley songs. Featuring a great melody and harmonies, ‘Blinded By A Lie‘ is an uptempo rocker and produced with the right amount of emphasis on keyboardist Irvin Parratt at just the right times. Sometimes keyboards over dominate (like mentioned in ‘Lost and Found‘), but when done right (as they are here) they can help a song, or in this case a chorus, stand out. The other Catley track ‘Walk On Water‘ is a welcome change of pace and melodically stands out from the other tracks. A big, bombastic sound provided by drummer Bob Pears and keyboardist Parratt punctuate the song at various times but allow the melody of the verses to breathe. This makes the song impact at all the right times without overwhelming the listener.
Finally, the album concludes with the title track ‘Fire In The Sky‘, an epic 9:28 minute exhibition. It starts as an acoustic mid-tempo ballad. After the 4:30 mark, it then progresses to a heavy, grandiose track and is the most “metallic” number on an otherwise mostly AOR album. Showcasing once again the talents of guitarist Vince O’ Regan, it’s an outstanding track, but personally I’m not crazy about the length. It features two guitar solos, nearly back to back, when it could have just used one. This track would have been my favorite on the album had they shaved off about three minutes. That’s an entirely biased perspective from me as I don’t care for most songs at that length, even those from some of my favorite artists.
I have never heard any other versions of these songs, nor did I want to so I could hold this album accountable for its own material. As a result, I cannot comment on differences between the originals and these updated versions in terms of sonics and performance, but I can say this album sounds fantastic and all of the band members bring their “A” game. If this is the start of a new era for the band, then fans of this genre are sure to love what comes next.