Reviewed: November 1999
Released: 1999, Spitfire Records
When EvilG asked if I wanted to review this CD I jumped at the opportunity. I knew that Westworld was a hard rock “supergroup” fronted by Tony Harnell of TNT. When I finally got the disc I saw that Westworld was also the brainchild of Riot guitarist and founder Mark Reale. I also did a review this month of Riot’s new release “Sons of Society” and thought that it was a great CD. Now I had even more reason to hear this disc.
First let me fill you in on Westworld. Mark Reale, guitars, is the founding member and guitarist of Riot. Mark met Tony Harnell, vocals, of TNT through Paul Orofino who has produced the last few Riot cds as well as this Westworld CD. The two hit it off and were soon writing songs. When they realized that they had enough tunes for a CD they recruited Bruno Ravel ex White Lion, ex Talas and currently Danger Danger for bass duties and John O’Reilly, whose credits include: Rainbow, Blue Oyster Cult and Blackmores Night, for the drum slot. What they produced was the self titled Westworld CD. This disc is 10 songs of melodic hard rock.
This release has itself firmly planted on the hard rock side of the spectrum. If you like ballads there are plenty on here with at least 3 of the 10 songs falling into that category. The track “Heart Song”, if released in 1989 instead of 1999, would have been all over the radio. This is a great commercial ballad. What I had trouble with on this disc was that of the 10 songs, 8 were mid tempo or slower, with the acoustic “Suicide” and “Little Voices” being highlights. The 2 remaining tracks are by no means fast songs. They are faster than the other tracks but do not even approach anything with the tempo of Mark’s main band Riot .
Harnell’s voice is strong but there isn’t enough variety in the songs for him to mix in a range of vocal styles. The rhythm section is adequate if unspectacular. They don’t take any chances and keep it simple. The real disappointment for me is Mark Reale. On the latest Riot CD Reale really smokes. The guitars move at a furious pace and I was hoping that he would incorporate some of that style here. Unfortunately, he doesn’t. His playing is good but I kept hoping that he would change things up a bit.
Overall “Westworld” is a disappointment. With Mark Reale and Tony Harnell at the helm I was hoping for a disc that would rekindle my love of hard rock. Unfortunately this CD does not rock hard enough to do the job.
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