By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
Well Uncivil Revolters, 2020 can kiss our metal asses because we are through with that horrific year. Definitely not the best way to kick off a new decade, but we are still here with our horns in the air. While we are still dealing with this pandemic, I firmly believe that 2021 is going to be a kick-ass year for rock ‘n’ roll and heavy metal. Last December, I had the great privilege of speaking with Trans-Siberian Orchestra drummer Jeff Plate. During our conversation, he told me about a new power metal project he has been working on with his TSO partner, keyboardist Jane Mangini. They call themselves as Alta Reign, and they are making their presence known in the New Year. Plate has been working on this project for over 30 years, and now they ready to unleash themselves to the world with their debut album, Mother’s Day.
We start Mother’s Day off with “Shine.” Right off the bat, the energy is electrified. Between Tommy Cook and Collin Holloway (who are both co-lead vocalists/guitarists), they each ascend high with their voices and sizzle on the riffs. Keyboardist Zach Hamilton dazzles the melody while Kevin McCarthy is dominant on the bass. Alta Reign shines with this tune. Next is “Witness,” a melodic hard rock number with a 80s arena vibe to the beat. Cook and Holloway are spectacular on the mic, both sharing and taking turns with the lyrics. Plate is wicked fast and pulsating on the drums. Mangini and Hamilton compose intricate harmonies on the keyboards. “Thin Red Line” has a meaty, crunchy guitar that is headbanging good. The whole song is a near perfect blend of progressive rock and melodic metal. I was particularly keen on the soaring guitar solo performed majestically. “Never Say Never” continues the incredible musicianship that each member incorporates. When I listen to this specific song, it made me feel triumphant, as if I won a huge contest or conquered an unbearable obstacle. The incredible guitar work of Holloway and Cook invigorates the entire song.
The title-track, “Mother’s Day,” goes all over the musical radar with the insane keyboard work of Hamilton and Mangini. This tune is 7 minutes long, jam-packed with mesmerizing hooks, heartfelt melodies, and tremendous guitar riffs, especially by Whitesnake’s Joel Hoekstra. Plate displays his dynamic drumming skills, showing that he can go from thunderous to graceful. His transition between tones is astounding in this song. In the instrumental “ESC (Escape),” Alta Reign show off their musical talents as a collective unit. “Come Out and Play” is very progressive with a touch of symphonic flow. Mangini and Hamilton each let their creative juices flow on the keyboards, and their technical knowledge crushes the song. “Let’s Go! (I’m In Charge Now)” takes to the skies as this tune illuminates brightly to the very end. I loved hearing the guitars rev up, which is similar to what Mötley Crüe’s Mick Mars did on “Wild Side.” This gives the song additional strength.
“Always” is Alta Reign’s glorious power ballad. Angelic and pleasant, the song keeps it simple and does not overdo it with bombastic guitar solos. It is a showcase of how soulful Cook and Holloway can be with their voices. I would have added a little more flair to it, but it is very pleasant sounding. “Immortal” is another power ballad song, but it is more guitar driven than “Always.” Between the two, I side more with the latter tune because I felt the passion and drive more in that one. “Passage” is another instrumental that is more elusive and exquisite than the first one. It does have a somewhat New Age touch to it, and it actually works. Alta Reign drives Mother’s Day home with “Rise.” This is the longest song off the whole record, and it brings out the best in every member. It is full power ballad charm and thunderous metal allure. TSO member Chris Caffery comes in to add his guitar magic along with Holloway and Cook. They rise to the top of the mountain, thankful for the journey it took to get there. “Rise” is a great closer.
The New Year gets off to a promising start with Alta Reign’s debut. Mother’s Day is majestic and powerful, with a touch of refinement. Plate and Mangini assembled top-notch players to provide listeners a top-notch record. Listening to it makes me feel hopeful that things, while still dismal, will start to blossom into something better for 2021. I do not know if this new group will go beyond this album, but I would love to see them keep going. To Alta Reign, I salute you. Horns up!!!
03. Thin Red Line
04. Never Say Never
05. Mother’s Day
06. ESC (Escape)
07. Come Out and Play
08. Let’s Go! (I’m In Charge Now)
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