If there is a workaholic man in music business, Phil Vincent takes the prize. Whether solo, with Legion, D'Ercole, or in this case, TRAGIK, the albums keep coming like there is no tomorrow.
"Hunger" is the fourth release by Tragik, perhaps Phil's most melodic rock band / project where he lends to a more personal material, even in an earnest manner than on the solo albums under his own name.
Vincent is a prolific songwriter, but when you expand your arms like an octopus on too many projects at the same time, it puts you on risk to repeat yourself. Well, Mr. Phil Vincent is a clever musician, as he is absolutely focused separating the wheat from the chaff.
First of all, the man maintains a stable line up for every project. Tragik consists of Phil Vincent on vocals, bass, keyboards and occasional guitar, Damian D´Ercole on guitars and Dirk Phillips on drums, the same crew since the band born. Of course Damian D´Ercole is also bandmate in the group of the same name, but Phil is some kind of side member there, not the main director.
So Tragik works, rehearsal and record with its own identity, commanded by Vincent's more classic inspired songwriting, quite far from Legion's heavy Dokken-esque side.
When I talk about classic inspiration, I mean Foreigner, Boston, some Styx, Kansas, and even The Beatles. It is definitely melodic rock oriented as always, but the arrangements are more adventurous, the keyboards play a larger role and the guitars riffs are smoother.
Tracks like "Don't Say a Word", the great "Look At Yourself" (a highlight), "I Will Remember" (Foreigner comes to mind) or "No Tomorrow" are high quality enthusiastic '80s melodic rockers, full or catchy rhythms and harmonies. This is really, really good stuff.
But all these are interspersed by different, and varied material.
"Eye In The Sky" ranks amongst the best Vincent compositions ever, and also should be his more longest tack ever reaching the twelve minute mark. Don't be afraid, this is a fantastic song. It starts with a clean guitar in a midtempo pace and some eighties Kansas feel, D´Ercole soon unleashes a superb solo (I mean excellent), then the tempo raises with lots of keys and sharp guitars into a melodic rock heaven. Vincent shows his notable improvements in the vocal department with mature inflections and great control. At the middle section, synth injections gives to the song a catchy commercial aura, and for the end the track goes mid-paced again, blending bluesy guitars and vintage keys into a Beatles / Cheap Trick melody.
The aforementioned mix of styles may look weird on paper, but trust me, it's a terrific composition. Vincent has surprised me like never before, and in the better way possible.
The variation is shown as well on "This Is How It Has to Be" where the melodic rock is still present yet here with a seventies hard rock spice (but modern sounding) featuring a muscular bluesy solo, and "Til the End of Time" is an acoustic, simply but wonderfully delivered tune akin Elefante's work with Mastedon.
"Hunger" is not only the best Tragik album so far, it's the best Phil Vincent recording ever, and one of the most compelling indie Melodic Rock releases of the year.
Vincent has been working hard lately to improve one important flaw present on all his bands / projects: the uneven production (Phil is at charge always). Well, "Hunger" is the triumphant effort. Where the drums used to sound flat and mechanical, now all come crisp & clear, while the abundant keyboards and sharp balanced guitars in the mix perfectly blend with the, as said, controlled and fluid vocals.
The only fault on "Hunger" is the horrible, cheap cover artwork that not reflects the high quality material on offer inside, but you know, what matters is the music, and you will be amazed by this impressive, solid Vincent & Co. Melodic Rock CD.
01 - Giving Up
02 - Don't Say A Word
03 - Look At Yourself
04 - Eye In The Sky
05 - I Will Remember
06 - For You
07 - No Tomorrow
08 - This Is How It Has To Be
09 - Til The End Of Time
Phil Vincent - All Vocals, Bass, Keyboards, add. Guitar
Damian D'Ercole - Guitars, Percussion
Dirk Phillips - Drums, Keyboards
American multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and composer PHIL VINCENT is a workaholic. Where recent years has seen him joining several bands (Tragik, Circular Logik, D'Ercole and Legion) and singing on other people projects, somehow he still got some time left to continue with his solo career, started in the mid-nineties.
"Face It" is Phil's new recording and 'solo' is the key word here, although his Legion buddy Vince O'Regan (Bob Catley band) shreds out a solo or two. The rest is all Mr. Vincent himself.
Primarily, Vincent is a prolific songwriter, and this was his sole intention when released his first album almost twenty years ago: work as 'song writer artist', but circumstances changed when received such a positive response from his own performance.
Phil Vincent does it all. He writes the songs, he sings the songs, he plays all of the instruments and produce on his CD's, with a little help from his friends.
This dangerously could become 'more of the same' in all his projects, but Vincent is a skilled (and clever) composer managing to craft impactful rockers and good, varied melodies.
Of course much of the material present in "Face It" recalls his recent bands, plenty of Dokken-influenced hard rock songs with good dynamics and choruses, but also we find some of his own melodic side structurally inspired by Winger.
"Long Hard Road", the layered "Sooner Or Later" and the solid keyboard-filled "Burning Bridges" are clear examples of his penchant to write infectious tunes, while "End Of The Line" or "Make Up Your Mind" are crunchier balancing the whole thing.
Phil explores new sonic fields for him on some tracks as on the modern oriented "Can't Go Back" and the poppy / classic rock title track "Full Circle" with good results, especially in the slightly psych progressive melody of the latter.
"Face It" is well performed, arranged and recorded by Vincent, which keeps improving his craft as 'one man band'.
Phil is singing better and better everyday building really good multi-layered harmony vocals which adds nice nuances on all songs, and the guitar work is intense, varied, delivering meaty solos as well.
Perhaps on some tracks - particularly the heavier - the rhythm section sounds too much 'like a wall', but that's a minor criticism because the important thing is always a good song, and here's a lot of them.
From Zero Day Rocks
With a man as busy as Phil Vincent, it is easy to lose track of all his output. Whether solo, with Legion, or in this case D`Ercole, the albums keep coming like there is no tomorrow. The guy´s inspiration has no limitations as I happen to know more output is already on the way. But okay, let´s point ourselves to this album. In the band are Tane DeAngelis on drums, William Arnold on bass, Damian D´Ercole on guitars, Phil handling all vocals (massive harmonies alert once again) as well as keyboards, rhythm guitars and some more drums and Legion buddy Vince O`Regan is handling lead guitars. Which strikes me as a bit odd, as on the previous effort Damian handled most of the solo work if memory serves me right.
Of course the songs here are in the by now familiar Vincent vein. so melodic hard rock, spiced up with keyboards where it adds to the picture to give it that great eighties feel. It rocks hard, it kicks ass and fits seamlessly in the heritage. Which is far from over as you will understand. And when looking back, with a person that writes and records continuously, it is self explanatory several monikers are needed to channel all that material. But hey, as long as I get walls of harmony vocals, loud guitars and songs that can carry the weight, I am not complaining!