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The Scintilla Project - 'The Hybrid' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/c4/63/28/the-scintilla-project-the-hybrid-99-1417469694.jpg Hot

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Highlights? Frankly it’s every track ... there’s not a filler in sight.

Remember Balance of Power? I do, with great affection. The Melodic Metal outfit produced four terrific albums in that genre between 1998 and 2003 before simply and disappointingly fading from the scene.

Great news, the core of TSP comprises of former BOP members Lionel Hicks and Tony Ritchie with the one and only Biff Byford (Saxon) providing the vocals; and what they’ve produced is utterly splendid.

Imagine BOP songs, albeit with a contemporary and tad heavier guitar sound, with Byford on vocals and that’s precisely what you’ve got here. In the process they’ve managed to unveil a more versatile and varied side of Byford who’s never sounded so good; the songs fit him perfectly and have stretched him magnificently. I’d never have expected to use the word subtle but on this album he shows a full range of delivery, styles and great emotion; his brilliant diction also means you can hear every word and nuance.

Ritchie’s songs (writing all but two of those on offer, one of those being a co-write) are pivotal and lyrically he’s as acute and incisive as ever (“Seems like you fell from grace. I’ve seen your face, but I never know which one to talk to”). His backing vocals add significantly to the overall feel of some tracks. Every single song has a riff and refrains to die for, hooks big enough to snare sharks, tons of melody and a chorus that sinks into the subconscious and imbeds itself there.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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The guitar work sounds like BOPs Pete Southern so I was surprised when it turned out to be a variety of guys including Andy Sneap (ex-Sabbat, Hell); whoever is responsible the guitars are splendid throughout, as are Hicks’ drums which are positively Portnoy-esque at times.

Highlights? Frankly it’s every track... there’s not a filler in sight. From the notes I’ve made I could spend pages dissecting each one and picking out all the bits that made me purr with pleasure; but there are so many. Opener, ‘Scintilla (One Black Heart)’ will have you hooked and the quality never diminishes. ‘Some Nightmare’ starts quietly with delightful piano and develops into an exceptional power ballad; Byford’s singing is superb and the vocal arrangement is a delight. ‘Pariah’ lulls you in then hits you between the eyes while the wonderful ‘Life In Vain’ mixes the heavy and the restrained so well.

See the interview elsewhere in this issue for details on how this album was born, what’s behind it and why it closes with a new version of Saxon’s ‘No Rest for the Wicked’. I just hope this is the start of something rather special and not a one-off. An absolute cracker.

Gary Marshall

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