Apocalyptic Journey

Well here we are at WMMCM a full week after the Honda Rebellion and while we have fought back mightily, The Evil Honda still has the upper hand. Yes the only vehicle on the planet that is capable of running along nicely with no cooling fan at 114 degrees to only start overheating when it’s 70 degrees and raining is still occupying my driveway as the defiant conqueror of physics.

After a slow return to the normal laws of the universe The Evil Honda still had one more trick up it’s sleeve. Now that the cooling system is capable of cooling, The Evil Honda will happily start and idle all day and never get hot. At idle it takes a long time for a car to overheat and The Evil Honda has that part all figured out. If you have the temerity to actually want to go somewhere The Evil Honda simply shuts off the fuel.

After a long and dangerous intelligence battle my scanners figured out the The Evil Honda has shut off it’s main crank sensors rendering it incapable of speed. This however gives it the advantage of endurance as it may not be able to go fast but it can stay in a low power mode all but indefinitely – while never overheating.

I’ll have to find away to regain control of The Evil Honda. Right now when I arrive home from the shop it just sits there, staring at me and the GTO looking very threatening. (It does have one benefit though while it’s idling away in my driveway. The birds are terrified of it.)

Now it’s onward to the Gates of Edam and today’s subject is a band that finds itself listed as perhaps coming from either side of the Gate depending on the listener.

One More E-Mail Link!

Any long time Cheese Metaler will know that Bridey and myself usually have a very different opinion of Journey. Both of us certainly respect the musicianship and of course, Steve Perry’s vocals. Where we differ is that Bridey is much more lyrically driven than I am so while she identifies and dislikes the usually simple and quite often silly lyrics from Perry and the band, I don’t find myself quite as bothered by it. In fact, that is one advantage we have here at WMMCM as we wend through all that is Cheese. Our two different outlooks make us listen to things that we otherwise might not as we travel on from one cheese to the next.

In 1995, after a nearly decade long break, Journey decided to give it one more go with all five members from the classic late 70′s to mid-1980′s line-up. Steve Perry as lead vocalist of course, Neal Schon on guitars, Ross Valory on bass, Jonathan Cain on keyboards and Steve Smith on drums. This combination of singer and musicians is hard to beat from any technical point of view. They are all amongst the best at what they do and when they briefly reformed, they also made what I think is the best Journey album ever, Trial by Fire.

Opening with Cain’s keyboard string section, this is not the Journey of 1986 and “I’ll be Alright Without You.”

“Wicked prophets kill… speaking his name…”

You have an ominous low voice opening the story in a very un-Journey like fashion before Ross Valey begins to shake to room with his slap bass. Even Neal Schon’s guitars sound different, more disturbed and disturbing.

Perry starts out with his usual flair and perfect diction, with one major difference. Perry and producer Kevin Shirley are doing something that would normally be considered poor recording. Listen to Perry’s breath at the start and end of each phrase. With a beautifully timed bit of reverb and delay Perry’s breath becomes an effect in and of itself. That quick whoosh here and there adds another level of intensity that really, is very cool!

“In the glory of an innocent age

A king is born to a house filled with rage

One man’s fear is another man’s truth, one fear.”

Rolling through the verses, Schon is having a blast with ringing fills and the occasional power chord here and there while Valory keeps hammering away with the slap bass. All along drummer Steve Smith is rock solid and very tense just waiting for the chorus so he can have some more fun at the breakdown.

Perry’s vocal throughout “One More” is an example of how great a singer he really is. Few singers would ever be capable of this kind of vocal acrobatics and most of those few who could really do this kind of thing would more than likely sound kind of silly. Perry however, has complete conviction and confidence.

“Brother to brother, blood on their hands

Desolation in the kingdom of man

Holy vengeance is the justice of hell, Mercy, mercy!”

Just take a listen to Perry in the third line when he reaches “Justice of hell.” He pulls that off with absolute confidence and as always, when Perry hits the clouds he’s still got an insanely BIG voice! Behind Perry, Smith’s drumming is getting more and more intense and complicated making the whole song larger as they go along.

“One more, cry in the night… one more

One more, war left to fight … one more

One life, cut down by fire

Once child’s, angry desire… one more”

Take a close listen to the second chorus. Perry’s vocals are terrifying and ferocious. At the end of each line he pushes his voice over the line until he actually cracks just slightly and then reels it back in for the next line. Just amazing stuff!

Right at the bridge Jonathan Cain returns to the front with his keyboards once more creating a dramatic mood shift as Perry is still running right at the edge. In the back Ross Valory is playing one of the more intense and complicated bass runs of his career and that’s saying quite a bit as Valory has always been a terrific bass player. Also, on “One More,” you can really hear the effect of Valory’s secret to these massive bass lines that still maintain incredible clarity. Valory has always played a standard four string bass, most famously his 80′s era Steinberger Bass, (the one with no headstock.) For most of his career Valory has used those four string basses with the lower four string from a five string bass. In other words instead of the standard E,A,D,G Valory tunes his basses to B,E,A D a forth lower.

You can hear the results quite clearly and Valory’s hands are moving around the fretboard as fast as Schon’s leads.

For the final runs through the chorus Valory and Smith have completely cut loose and are appropriately running amok through “One More.” Schon has actually been fairly restrained through the whole thing when compared to Smith and Valory. Until about the four and a half minute mark that is.

From there Schon takes off in every direction at once leaving behind the identifiable “Journey Guitar Sound” for parts unknown. It feels like all that tension build up until this point finally explodes out of Schon. He rips and shreds for nearly forty-five second until Schon and Smith get in a duel for supremacy that is about as intense as any song has a right to be.

The sound of Journey’s Apocalypse.

About Pete

Pete is a professional-musician-with-a-day-job based in California's Inland Empire, as well as a veteran sound engineer in the studio and for live shows. He's been a lover of classic rock since back when it was known as "rock" and has in more recent years developed a country habit as well.
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