It’s hard, if not downright impossible, to fault the musical pedigree of the group of musicians who, over the past couple of years, have come together to create the entity that is known as Four By Fate. Between them, they have played with a list of bands that you’d probably need a jotter to fill with their names.
Vocalist/keyboard player Tod Howarth and bassist Jon Regan are perhaps best known for their affiliation with Frehley’s Comet, although their collective catalogue of collaborations includes the likes of Peter Frampton, Ted Nugent, John Waite, Scandal and Cheap Trick. Guitarist Pasquale ‘Pat’ Gasperini’s credits go on for almost forever… But perhaps the most significant piece of the 4XF8 jigsaw is the late AJ Pero, who joined the band after original drummer Stet Howland was injured in a car crash, and recorded five of the tracks on this debut offering before his untimely passing, with Skid Row’s Rob Affuso picking up the sticks to fulfill the rest of the duties.
With Pero’s full-time band, Twisted Sister, having decided to call it a day (partially in respect of his memory), ‘Relentless’ therefore stands as the last contribution which the late drummer made to the hoary old world of rock ‘n’ roll… And, to be honest, he could have asked for a much better send off, as this is at best a solid hard rock album, one which does not live up to the abilities of its constituent contributors and, at worst, a workmanlike offering from a band perhaps left in a dilemma as to how to continue following the unexpected turn of events so early in its processing.
Part of the problem lies in bookending the album with cover versions – opener ‘These Times Are Hard For Lovers'(from John Waite’s 1987 ‘Rover’s Return’ album, which the band pull off with a fiesty esteem) and Rick Derringer’s classic ‘Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo’. Both are well delivered, but give the feeling that the band ran out of creative ideas and decided to play it safe by delving into their collective collaborative pedigrees. Elsewhere, ‘Relentless’ is a mixture of classically-influenced hard rock songs, such as the bluesy ‘Moonshine’, the surprisingly vibrant ‘Follow Me’ and the crunching ‘On My Own’ combined with moments of melodic AOR , such as ‘It’s Over Now’ and ‘On My Own’. There’s also four minutes of pure retrespection with the Zeppelin-esque ‘Levee Breach’ (sic).
‘Relentless’ is not a bad album. It’s a decent listen, and has some good songs, with some really nice hooks, and the collective performances are as good as you would expect them to be. There’s just that little spark missing which raises it above this conclusion.
Tracklist: These Times Are Hard For Lovers / Moonshine / Hangin’ On / Levee Breach / It’s Over Now / Follow Me / On My Own / I Give / Don’t Know / Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo
Recommended listening: These Times Are Hard For Lovers
‘Relentless’ is out now on Amazing Records.