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Released: 1993, Vienna Records
Hidden Gem Review
I am fairly meticulous when it comes to following the careers of musicians and performers I like. I like to keep track of discographies. Well, imagine my surpise this year when I stumbled across this little beauty in the used bargain bin of Scrape Records in Vancouver, Canada. The musician in question is Tony Martin. What ever happened to him after Dio replaced him in Black Sabbath in 1992? Of course in 1992 he did his first solo album. And in 1994 he rejoined Sabbath for Cross Purposes. I always wondered, “What happened to the guy in 1993?” Did he just sit home on the couch waiting for the call from Iommi? No! He sang on the debut album by Misha Calvin!
This one blind-sided me, I mean I knew the name Misha Calvin, but I did not expect an album of such high caliber melodic heavy metal! Besides having the prestigious Martin on vocals and co-writing about half the material, Misha also had Ian Parry (Vengeance, etc, etc, etc) appear on three tracks as well. EVOLUTION was released on the little known Vienna Records, which I probably why it went under my metal radar. The packaging is sparse but decent with the whole thing produced and recorded by guitarist Calvin in England.
Despite the neat little aforementioned trivia I was very pleased to hear classy, melodic metal on this disc. The songs are catchy, with good sing-along choruses but not swamped in heavily produced , multi-layered gang vocals like Def Leppard. I feel many people never gave Martin a fair shake due to his place in the Sabbath legacy. I still meet people who refuse to admit that he exists, let alone admit he was in Sabbath for almost 10 years, and did five studio and one live CD. His voice his powerful and emotional and I have always thought he was an under-rated singer, so it was nice to hear more material by him.
The Ian Parry tracks are good too but for some reason his voice doesn’t stand out as much, it seems a little bit too far back in the mix perhaps. Calvin’s performance is not really that of a egotistical shredder but a virtuoso whose playing fits well in the confines of a traditional metal song. Eg, not too much shredding but great solos, excellent riffs and guitar driven song-writing.
He does let loose a little in the two instrumental tracks, Evolution and Valhalla. The songs are conventional and in all honesty do not push the bounds of originality, but they are solid and enjoyable.
I am very pleased to have this nice little CD, it truly meets the requirement of a hidden gem.
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