'III - In the wake of the storm'

(self-released/Retrospect records)

MARK: 85/100

Here it is, the comeback album of Biloxi has become reality after a long while of trouble. The first thing one notices is the balanced division of songs alternating Mark Allen Lanoue and the lamented Clyde Holly behind the mike and embracing the guitar. Unfortunately Clyde, who was also the label manager with Bob Simis and Aristei of Ash America records, which released their debut album in 1993, wasn't able to see the release of this product since he died while the album was being recorded; at least he is dedicated the whole group of compositions, as you can deduce from the faithful, friendly and heart-felt lyrics.
14 tracks showing all the aspects of the Californian patriarchs, with the alternation making you clearly perceive the different sounds and productions, as well as different volumes from track to track.
The legendary act has an almost 20-year-long career spent between highs and lows (another guitar player deceased in the early years, the success only skimmed in the golden days of AOR and Class metal, the sponsor's and Rich Symons' demise in a car accident, the split in 1994 because of the advent of Grunge, money problems and inner tensions just before the partecipation at the Monsters of Rock and a Scandinavian tour), yet it's one of the few of the first wave to be still around since the '89 foundation.

The title of the record refers to the notorious hurricane Katrina, which showed all the limits of the rescue services of the most developed country in the world, still Biloxi don't mean to polemize, they just want us to remember that in times of tragedy faith can be of great help to believers, and everybody knows how strong faith is in the USA, in which 94% of the inhabitants declare adherence to one religion.
With these premises and the music itself, I believe the now 4-piece has made a good decision to reform; altho the music market has been recording minimal sales in the last years, severely damaging several Rock and Metal giants (think why Guns 'n' Roses are still waiting to release their 15-year-announced album) and bearing a hand only to underground bands to be recognized, it is not so bad a time for Melodic rock and all the band's efforts are worth going over the present record.
The songs aren't meat twice boiled; there's a connection with the past but there's more ripeness and melancholy for the good old days gone forever. The past knowledge is connected with today's attitude and life vision.

Muscular and harmonic, "Here Alone" opens fire, gifted with an excellent refrain, followed by the plesant and soothing "World".
Things get cutting again with "Broken", but even this, like all the other non-instrumental ones, contains an infectious chorus you won't be able to erase from your mind.
The most modern Biloxi can be found in "15 Minutes", a piece veiled by a soft layer of nostalgy; I adore the lyrics, because they confirm what I've always thought: hold on to what you real care for when nothing seems to go the right direction and do all your best to change your life. In a nutshell: tenacity and hope, the basic philosophy of the band.
"Saints & Angels" is a ballad which, besides the classical instruments - vocals and acoustic guitar - a keyboard layer is added to, dedicated to a person loved by Mark whose relationship is over, and so does "Empty Road to Nowhere".
Probably the highlight of the CD, "On the Other Side", was entirely composed by Clyde for someone dead, and is now referred to him by his bandmates, his family and the dearest friends. This composition represents a pattern of originality, giving spine thrills and being enriched by elegant and powerful drumwork.
Call it karma, nemesis or divine justice, it may take 1 or 10 years,the otherworld or even a reincarnation, but in the end all shall reap what they've sowed. Don't be misled by the title, as these are the lyrics of "Right the Music", a song between Hard rock, Emo and Alternative; an unreleased facet of the quartet's personality. Good axe solo but most of all immense vocal lines! Indeed, time seems not to have grazed the Mississippian singer's voice.
I admit it, "The River" is the track I like the least owing to its vocals halfway between Pop and Frank Zappa, but after some time I assimilated that like the rest; definitely unusual for Biloxi's standards, maybe Clyde had an earnest of what would come and wrote this song both as a legacy and to take his demons out.
"I Pray" and "Pray for Rain" are plain examples of Christian devotion, nevertheless beyond the lyrical issue, the former is pure AOR that won't but make the day of Alias' fans, whereas the latter reminds of Tesla and Alannah Myles from afar; it's also the track making more way to Dave Melton's bass thanks to a central divagation in odd times.
"Fly into the Sun" is a very relaxing long instrumental, endowed with perfect sounds, followed by "Synchronicity II", the second peak of the album, completely diving into the '80s, a bit Van Halen, a bit War Babies and rife with the Police's references (mind, the hardest Police devoid of the Reggae parts); hypnotic vocals, amazing drums, lotsa magic liveliness and dynamic.
Finally, "Mercy", a bonus track containing Bluegrass, tough vocals, crushing riffs but also violin insertions in the refrain dripping blood from a heart fulla regrets.

Even tho it's a shame some tracks end chopped in the final part instead of totally fading away, the connoisseurs of Biloxi, Giant, Whitesnake and the above-cited combos oughtn't to miss this precious opus.
This is truly a pretty good manner to say they are back and are gonna stay for a long time, and to bring their contribution within ho-humless Melodic rock in 2008, without forgetting Clyde and all the other ones waiting for us on the other side.
Now, if we lived in a rewardful world, the North American act would quickly find a decent record deal once and for all, yet we all know reality may sometimes be unfair. Let's hope life won't let'em down. Nuff is enough!...


Mark Allen Lanoue --- ---

Line-up on this record:
Clyde Holly, lead v., g., keys
Mark Allen Lanoue, v., g.
Rob Gronkoski, d. & backing v.
Stephan Prescott, keyboards
Dave Melton, b.
Dean Fasano + Rory Faciane, additional backing v. + additional d.

Official sites:

-Let the Games Begin (CD - 1993)
-Check Mate (bootleg CD)
-Right the Music (CD - 2007)
- III - In the Wake of the Storm (CD - 2007)