Double Dealer – Deride at the Top – 2.5/5
An album that's been left on the back burners for a while now, this sees the second effort for the band that can stand proud from their past achievements; a super group formed from the lead guitarist and ex-keyboardist from Concerto Moon coupled with the drummer and vocalist from local Heavy Metal legends “Saber Tiger.” It's not even as though they've taken the worst members from each band, but rather the complete opposite, and they aren't afraid of letting loose a little and proving of all the people they could have chosen to include that they were worthy of the position. That is, except for the drummer, who beyond keeping the most basic of beats for the other instruments doesn't seem capable of contributing much further.
The keyboards never smother the sound with synths and instead show far more restraint in their usage, being used subtly for atmosphere in the background and coming to the fore to perform 'Rick Wakeman' style organ solo's, used to bounce from and complement the guitar work, which is once again on top form, forcing you to sit and pay attention. Even the bass gets his chance to shine, not only responsible for a good deal of the tracks rhythm (given the absence of a second guitarist) but permitted their own occasional solo. This tri-attack of different instruments shows the band at their best and the production has been done so carefully as to remove nothing of the old school vibe they were shooting for whilst making each element distinct from one another in the final product.
The problem is, in between all the individuals working on their own 'set pieces,' they all forgot that at some point they should work together. The songs are coherent enough, but all too often slow down for another tiring ballad, chugging along at a mid-pace in a sleep-inducing effort that only perks up when one of the musicians are given their turn in the spotlight to shine. It's too generic feeling; too middle of the road; too uninspired to be anything more than an example of a super group forgetting the basics. There's little here that feels memorable in the slightest; that they're all competent is never a question, and when everything works out the result finally starts living up to the names they've created for themselves, but these moments come all too few and far between. In amidst all the gems are a plethora tracks consisting of the lesser variety, and sadly they take up an all too unwelcome majority of the album.