By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
We may be out of 2020, but we are still feeling the effects it has left behind. From the COVID-19 pandemic to still not having live performances in California, I am in the mood for the kind of rock ‘n’ roll that can both make me feel like a winner and uplift my exhausted mind. That is where singer Jeff Scott Soto comes into play. He has the kind of voice that is very moving and soulful; almost ensuring the listener, we can achieve any obstacle. He does just that with his other supergroup, W.E.T. Formed with Work of Art keyboardist/guitarist Robert Såll and Eclipse guitarist Erick Mårtensson, W.E.T. is an anagram for the main bands the core members are a part of, with Scott coming from Talisman. After three albums together, they return with their 4th release, Retransmission. It has already been dubbed as a contender for Melodic Rock Album of the Year for 2021, so let us if that statement is justified.
We begin Retransmission with “Big Boys Don’t Cry.” As soon as Robban Bäck whammies thunder on the drums, Mårtensson comes in with huge riff that shakes the Earth. Both he and Soto share vocal duties on the song, with each bringing vitality to the lyrics. Lead guitarist Magnus Henriksson masters the solo, helping getting the record off to good start. In “The Moment of Truth,” I enjoyed the rough bass intro beautifully executed by Andreas Passmark. The solo Henriksson displays is melodic and neo-classical, searing to boiling temperatures. “The Call of the Wild” has a real 1980s vibe. The chorus has that anthemic feel which can fill arenas and stadiums with screaming fans who are singing along. Soto and Mårtensson continue to jump back-and-forth with the vocals marvelously. We now come to “Got to Be About Love,” W.E.T.’s big ballad number and my personal favorite. When I interviewed Soto, he told me that while he did not write the lyrics, he became heavily invested in them. I can hear that investment in his voice and the payout is huge. Keyboardist/guitarist Såll’s harmonies melodies meshes exquisitely with Henriksson’s raging solo.
“Beautiful Game” has W.E.T. return to their heavy, straightforward rock sound. Mårtensson and Henriksson compose some badass licks, while Soto continues soar with each lyric exiting his mouth. What I found stellar was when Henriksson channels his inner Yngwie Malmsteen and cranks out a proficient lead lick that Uli Jon Roth wished he had in his younger days. This tune is full of energy and excitement. We reach the halfway point, and “How Far to Babylon” is another sure-fire crowd pleaser. Bäck pounces on the snares with vibrant energy that goes well with Passmark’s bluesy bass playing. The lyrics scream victory as Soto carries the tune with all his vocal might. Bäck counts W.E.T. in the beginning “Coming Home.” Mårtensson continues to put his musical genius to work by composing a vivacious guitar beat. The solo is in a style that Paul Gilbert would put together for Mr. Big, full of juicy hooks and melodic harmonies. Såll is euphoric as he strokes the keyboard with such splendor. “What Are You Waiting For” brings W.E.T. back the land of ballads. The semi-clean chords are picked with such ecstasy. I love the simple, Keith Scott style solo that Henriksson performs.
“You Better Believe It” features an awesome drawn out guitar strikes, helping establish the might this tune provides. Bäck and Passmark are sensational on the bass-and-drum rhythmic combo they produced. Soto sings his heart out when we reach the chorus. His vocals remain as powerful as it did in the opening track. “How Do I Know” has the makings of tough but righteous hard rocking number where Mårtensson designs a humdinger riff. The way Soto approaches this tune is from an underdog stance; meaning while you may be down, you stand right the hell back up. It spells out “victory!” The grand finale comes in the form of “One Final Kiss,” one of the songs Soto actually wrote. Inspired by old R&B love songs, W.E.T. dominants the beats and riffs with a traditional rocker chorus. Henriksson saves the best solo for last as he blasts the chords with earsplitting motion. I can see why Soto enjoyed writing this song. This tune closes the album out strong.
With uncertainty still looming over our head, Retransmission does the job of rejuvenating our rock spirits. W.E.T. makes me feel hopeful for the future, and that we will ultimately be triumphant in our trials. Soto is impassioned with his voice, while Mårtensson is still Sweden’s unsung rock hero who continues to pen magnificent tunes. Frontier Records never ceases to amaze me with their lineup. I look forward to hearing these songs live, for they make me feel alive. To W.E.T., I salute you. Horns up!!!
Big Boys Don’t Cry
The Moment Of Truth
The Call Of The Wild
Got To Be About Love
How Far To Babylon
What Are You Waiting For
You Better Believe It
How Do I Know
One Final Kiss
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