Released: 2001, Nightmare Records
Surprise of the month here!! USM is made up of Tony Ritchie on vocals and bass, Pete Southern on guitars and Lionel Hicks on drums, all former members of a band called Balance of Power. Now the odd thing about this is that Tony Ritchie only handled bass duties in Balance of Power, but my question is why didn't he handle vocals in that band, as the guy has a great voice!!!!!
USM's debut cd offers up melodic hard rock with superb production. Lots of hooks to be found on this disc. "Believe It Or Not", probably the most commercial of the cd, has one of those chorus's that will stick in your head again and again .We get the obligatory ballad, "It's All Over Now", but also lots of aggressive guitar work from Pete Southern (nice harmonics) on tracks such as "Kiss The Sun", opener "Beneath The Low" and the title track "Silver Step Child." The band serve up a nice balance of heaviness and melody on "The Time Of Our Lives", with it's Dream Theatre-like chorus. The secret to this band though is its ability to use its vocal harmonies, almost Queen-like at times.
USM is a breath of fresh air in 2001. You can find more info at: http://www.nightmare-records.com
Some extra info on USM for you!
Tony Richie plays Bass and sings on the album. This was planned as a solo album for Tony after leaving Balance of Power. Tony has since returned to Balance of Power as their Bass Player (and of course to lend awesome back-up / dual lead vocals.) Tony was actually the first vocalist for Balance of Power. When the band signed their last contract (following the release of their debut CD) the record company insisted they get a new vocalist with a higher range. Having looked for a suitable vocalist in their native England, Lionel Hicks, Balance of Powers drummer and producer, contacted his friends in the States, Lance King, asking for suggestions for a new vocalist. After listening to the music, Lance replied back with his desire to join the band as the vocalist.
All appears to be cool in the band since Lance did the Cover Art for USM and it is also released on Lance's own record label, Nightmare.
All the information above is from Balance of Powers website and album liner notes.