A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, Unsung Heroes

Revolution Saints – Eagle Flight

Deen Castronovo is a talent.

A little Frontiers Records project known as “Revolution Saints” is now four albums deep. The self-titled debut came out in 2015. Songs like “Back On My Trail”, “Locked Out Of Paradise” and “Way To The Sun” with Neal Schon led the way. I was also a fan of the excellent Eclipse cover, “How To Mend A Broken Heart”.

The sophomore album “Light In The Dark” hit the streets in 2017 with the excellent “Freedom” as the standout track.

Third album, “Rise” came out in 2020 and with the song “When The Heartache Has Gone”, they broke the million streams on Spotify. The trilogy of albums also saw the end of the first iteration of the band with the departure of Doug Aldrich and Jack Blades.

And then “Eagle Flight” landed in 2023.

Once I heard it, I had to write about it.

Joining Castronovo is Joel Hoekstra and Jeff Pilson. Two excellent musicians and songwriters with resumes to match.

But the main songwriter is Alessandro Del Vecchio again, the Max Martin, Jim Vallance and Desmond Child of Italy. according to my math, Del Vecchio’s song writing credits for Frontiers album releases would be a thousand plus. If it wasn’t for Del Vecchio, Revolution Saints wouldn’t exist.

With each song I will highlight the songwriters, to showcase the casting net that Frontiers President Serafino Perugino casts to get quality songs for his projects.

Eagle Flight

Written by Alessandro Del Vecchio, Francesco Savino and Rossella Moscatello. Savino and Moscatello are from the metal band False Memories, another Frontiers act, who released an album, “The Last Night Of Fall” in 2021.

This song is pure melodic rock with Castronovo’s tobacco stained Steve Perry like vocals.

Del Vecchio plays on this as well, delivering a stellar performance on the keys/piano.

Under the sky we will fly like eagles

Eagles are known for their strength, grace and ability to fly at great heights. Eagles are used to symbols of freedom, courage and vision. The phrase conveys a sense of freedom, power and soaring above our limitations. You can overcome obstacles, rise about your circumstances and experience a sense of exhilaration and triumph.

Our dreams are mirrored from our thoughts, grounded by a thousand hopes

Our dreams are a reflection of our thoughts and aspirations. Our minds project our desires and wishes into the world, creating a mental image or a “mirror” of what we hope to achieve. Each hope serves as a foundation, providing us with the strength and resilience to persevere through challenges and obstacles.

Talking Like Strangers

Written by Alessandro Del Vecchio and Joel Hoekstra and it’s a Hoekstra riff that kicks it off.

It’s got that major key vibe, and man that Intro solo from Hoekstra had me playing air guitar. Musically it sounds like a Firehouse song and I like it, as I think the first two Firehouse albums are excellent.

But the Chorus has that Euro Pop vibe. Almost ABBA like. And man, Castronovo hits some highs here.

Need Each Other

Written by Alessandro Del Vecchio and Italian pop songwriter Francesco Boccia.

The Chorus.

Press play on it it.

And then stick around for the guitar solo from Hoekstra.

Kids Will Be Kids

Written by Alessandro Del Vecchio and Kristian Fyhr.

Fyhr is the vocalist in several Frontiers acts like Seventh Crystal and House Of Lords.

An almost funky like groove starts it off, but once the intro guitar lead kicks in, its melodic rock heaven.

Castronovo is again nailing the vocal melody.

We were too young to know, that grown ups never lie, kids will be kids no matter what

It expresses the idea that when we were children, we were naive and unaware of the fact that adults sometimes deceive or lie.

As children, we tended to trust adults completely and believed that they always spoke the truth. However, as we grow older, we come to realize that adults are fallible and capable of dishonesty.

And regardless of what children may experience or learn about the world, they will still behave like children. Children have their own unique perspectives, innocence, and tendencies to be playful, curious, and impulsive.

The nature of childhood remains constant despite any revelations or disillusionment that may occur as children become more aware of the complexities of the adult world.

In an interview with Goldmine Magazine, this is what Castronovo had to say about it:

“It still has the pop sensibility of Journey but with Joel and Jeff in the band I feel it is a bit heavier.

I grew up with heavy metal and I love playing songs with that kind of power.

Johnny Gioeli, the singer from Hardline, who Neal and I had been with in the early 1990s, produced my vocals for me. I have always admired Johnny’s vocals. He coached me on Zoom.”

I’ll Cry For You Tonight

Written by Alessandro Del Vecchio and Francesco Boccia.

It’s like a ballad, but it’s still got enough weight to rock. Blues rock that is.

Crime Of The Century

One of my favourite tracks on the album and it’s written by Anders Wikstrom who is/was the guitarist and songwriter in the Swedish hard rock band Treat for the band’s first three records. Since the late 80’s he has amassed a portfolio of close to 300 credits on Discogs.

That Chorus hook remains with me long after the song is finished. Castronovo is channeling his love of Paul Stanley.

Gotta break thru the walls
Just to find that my heart is still beating

The idea of perseverance and resilience in the face of challenges or difficult situations.

Are you determined to overcome obstacles in order to discover that you are still alive and capable of experiencing life?

Set Yourself Free

Written by Alessandro Del Vecchio and it feels like it came from Night Ranger aka “Why Does Love Have To Change?”

Just press play and enjoy.

Sacred

Written by Alessandro Del Vecchio, Kristian Fyhr, Nikos Sofis and Saal Richmond. Sofis is a Greek songwriter/lyricist and Richmond is created the band IN-SIDE. If you like acts like Alan Parsons Project, Toto, Work Of Art and Europe then you will like IN-SIDE.

Jeff Pilson’s bass rumbles here perfectly locked in with Castronovo’s drums. It’s almost galloping.

Another favorite, just behind “Crime Of The Century”.

Once More

Written by Alessandro Del Vecchio and Francesco Boccia.

Castronovo is the highlight here, especially in the Chorus.

And Hoekstra nails the solo section.

Save It All

Written by Alessandro Del Vecchio, Kristian Fyhr and Stefano Mainini who also wrote songs for Sunstorm’s “Brother In Arms” album before this.

Hoekstra puts his stamp on this song. The guitars are phenomenal.

In most of the interviews I’ve read, Castronovo has said he doesn’t write lyrics and if it wasn’t for Del Vecchio, this project wouldn’t exist.

As a fan of Dokken and the song writing of Jeff Pilson, I would have loved to see some Pilson co-writes. Then again, the writers used here, have done a stellar job.

Crank it.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen making it is a miracle.

Have a read of his autobiography.

He couldn’t play guitar, and when he took lessons, he felt he got worse, so he quit.

Based on how “singing talent” was defined in the late 60s and early 70s, Springsteen had none.

The groups he was in kept looking for a lead singer, and it wasn’t him.

People ignored him or avoided him. His agent deserted him and audiences walked out on him.

The bands he was in left him.

He would write lyrics of driving/cruising around town but he didn’t know how to drive a car.

He would write lyrics of relationships, good times and bad times and he wasn’t even dating.

But he showed up everyday. Whatever talent people told him he lacked he acquired in skill.

A skill about telling stories and making people believe those stories are his.

The first two albums bombed. But he didn’t walk away. He was consistent and he kept on creating and releasing, even though the critics blasted him.

And then he dropped “Born to Run” in 1975.

All of our favorite artists have taken multiple albums to find their audience.

And if by chance a debut album comes out firing like “Appetite For Destruction” did, you need to look into how Guns N Roses were a 7 year over night success, like The Beatles.

Izzy Stradlin hit LA in 1980 and after doing time with unknown bands formed Hollywood Rose in 1983 with his childhood friend Axl Rose, who also moved to LA in 1982.

Duff McKagan played guitar, bass and drums in various bands from 1979 before moving to LA in 1983.

Slash, Steven Adler and Duff ended up in a band called Roadcrew, and due to not being able to find a suitable singer, Slash disbanded the band.

Adler then joined Guns N Roses and got his Roadcrew band mates to join as well when the other members left.

After some member changes and a band merger between LA Guns and Hollywood Rose and further member changes, the Guns N Roses version that blew us away with “Appetite” formed sometime in 1985.

Community is important.

Springsteen built a community around himself with the E Street Band. The people you surround yourself with, can raise the bar and push you on. In the case of “GnR”, the community can party even harder than you are used to and push you on in other ways.

None of it matters if your are not committed to the journey.

Springsteen was committed and at certain points in the last 40 years, he won by converting people to fans one at a time.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

How Has It Aged: Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls

Iron Maiden, is one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all time.

In September 2015, they released, “The Book of Souls”. The press release had something like this, “the album features eleven epic tracks, including the 18-minute-long “Empire of the Clouds.”

“The Book of Souls” takes its inspiration from several sources, including the Mayan civilization and the ancient Aztec mythology. Talking about the inspiration behind the album, Iron Maiden’s bassist, Steve Harris, said, “We all love exploring the myths and legends of different cultures around the world, and I think fans will really enjoy seeing how we’ve taken these ideas and turned them into something new and exciting.”

The album is also known for its successful chart performance, reaching number one in several countries worldwide.

The album’s tracks are not typical radio-friendly tracks; instead, they are epic journeys that take the listeners on a ride.

If Eternity Should Fail

Written by Bruce Dickinson. The song is played in drop D tuning and it originally had been written for one of Dickinson’s solo albums.

As Dickinson explains in a Kerrang interview;

The demo was done and the band just copied what Roy [Z, along time Bruce collaborator] and I did in his bedroom. In fact, the little keyboard bit in the beginning is me in Roy’s bedroom.

In a Rolling Stone interview, Dickinson described the song being about a machine designed by the evil Dr. Necropolis that steals the souls of men.

After the effects laden Intro, it really kicks into gear at the 1.32 mark.

Dickinson is at his best here, with each word and syllable clearly pronounced.

What the hell does “reefing a sail” mean?

I had to look it up.

Waiting in line at the ending of time if eternity should fail

It is open to interpretation.

The idea of a final judgment or reckoning, where all souls must wait in line to be judged, even if eternity itself were to come to an end.

Or it could be the idea of waiting for something that may never come, even in the face of eternal time. This interpretation could speak to the human experience of waiting for something unattainable or out of reach, despite the seemingly infinite amount of time available.

At the 5 minute mark it kicks into overdrive, classic Maiden. At 5.45 we get the harmonies.

I could have done without the demonic voice at the end.

Speed Of Light

Written by Adrian Smith and Bruce Dickinson.

Nothing super original about this musically as it is a track with alot of Deep Purple swagger mashed up with “From Here To Eternity” from the “Fear Of The Dark” album.

Shadows in the stars, we will not return, humanity won’t save us, at the speed of light.

It’s not just words to fit the music. There is a lot to unpack here.

“Shadows in the stars” could be interpreted as a metaphor for the human condition of feeling small and insignificant in the face of the vastness of the cosmos.

“We will not return” suggests a finality, perhaps implying that humanity is on a one-way journey towards some unknown destiny or fate.

“Humanity won’t save us” suggests a lack of hope or faith in the ability of human society to solve the problems facing us. This could be interpreted as a commentary on the current state of the world, where many pressing issues such as climate change, political instability, and inequality remain unresolved.

And the phrase “at the speed of light” suggests a sense of urgency and the idea that time is running out. This could be interpreted as a warning that we need to act quickly and decisively if we want to avoid a catastrophic future.

It conveys a sense of resignation and a lack of hope for the future. It suggests that we may be on a collision course with some form of disaster, and that there may be little we can do to avoid it.

The Great Unknown

Written by Adrian Smith and Steve Harris.

The Intro.

It reminds me of “Aerials” from System Of A Down. And I like it.

But it doesn’t lift off after the Intro and Dickinson is hard to decipher vocally.

But make sure you stick around for the harmony solo which kicks in at 4.11, before the main solo.

Overall if the great John Kalodner was sequencing the album, this song would be left off or it would be heavily edited to a 4 minute song.

The Red And The Black

Written by Steve Harris.

This song confuses me. It’s sort of a classic but it’s not. But depending on mood it is. Hear me out.

After the bass doodling, the whole Intro is classic Maiden.

We hear the vocal melody played on the guitar before the first verse kicks in. And it’s excellent. But the singing that comes next is way too busy and indecipherable. Even Harris has said in various interviews that Dickinson freaked out at singing this because there are so many words.

Lyrically it’s based on a 1830 French book called “Le Rouge et le Noir”.

The story is about a man trying to rise up the social ladder via working hard and then abandoning his ambitions as he spirals down with mental illness.

See myself in the hall of mirrors
A different shape every step I take
A different mind every step of the line
But in the end they are all mine

The idea of self-reflection and the complexity of one’s identity.

The “hall of mirrors” is a metaphor for the mind or the self, as we look inward and see different versions of ourselves reflected back.

Our perception of ourselves is constantly changing.

At 2.26, they start the woh-oh part.

At 2.58, the song moves into another section. The lead guitar plays the vocal melody and it works this time around.

And they move back to the woh-oh part.

Chance your luck a four leafed one

Success is uncertain and one must take a chance or a risk in order to achieve it. The “four-leafed one” emphasizes the idea that success or good luck is rare, like finding a four-leaf clover in a field of three-leaf clovers.

When the chorus kicks in it’s in major key territory.

At 6.34, a harmony section kicks in and then an excellent lead. I think it’s from Janick Gers. And there still another 6 minutes to go.

Another excellent lead kicks in at 8.38.

And the piece d resistance is the lead break that starts at 9.40. You need to stick around for that. It continues to the 11.53 mark.

It’s only fitting that it ends with the woh-oh part.

When The River Runs Deep

Written by Adrian Smith and Steve Harris.

How good is the riff that kicks in at the 35 second mark?

But the vocal melodies don’t do it justice.

The Book Of Souls

Written by Janick Gers and Steve Harris.

A baroque like intro from Janick Gers gets things started.

At the 58 second mark it goes into an Arabic feel, more “Powerslave” Ancient Egypt like than Aztec/Inca.

Prophecy of sky gods

The foretelling made by deities associated with the sky. In many cultures, the sky is seen as a domain of the gods, and so predictions made by them would be considered especially significant.

The sun and moon
Passing of old ways will come true soon

A prophecy of change and transformation. The sun and moon are often seen as powerful symbols of change and cycles of renewal.

But the song could have done with some editing.

Death Or Glory

Written by Adrian Smith and Bruce Dickinson who bring pack the power of the first three Maiden albums.

Lyrically it continues Dickinson’s love affair with aerial combat, which he covered in “Aces High” and “Tailgunner”.

Musically, the whole solo section is definitely worth pressing play for.

Shadows Of The Valley

Written by Janick Gers and Steve Harris.

An intro reminiscent of “Wasted Years” and “Paschendale”. And I’m hooked.

And musically the song is great. Melodically it is great. Lyrically it’s not so great.

Tears Of A Clown

I love the groove on this, written by Adrian Smith and Steve Harris, the song is praised by Dickinson as his favourite track and it is based on comedian Robin Williams’ depression and suicide in 2014.

Tomorrow comes, tomorrow goes
But the cloud remains the same
Wonder why he’s feeling down
Tears of a clown

A façade of happiness, even though the person is struggling with inner turmoil or sadness. Hiding their true emotions, just as a clown hides their true face behind a mask or makeup.

The Man Of Sorrows

Written by Dave Murray and Steve Harris. An arpeggiated Intro with a lead. Perfect.

Then the vocal melodies come in and Dickinson is crystal clear.

And when the Chorus kicks in, it brings back memories of “Wasting Love” from the “Fear Of The Dark” album.

Looking through a mist of truth
That we believe an elusive cloud

We perceive reality as hazy or unclear, and we struggle to discern what is true and what is not. Truth may be difficult to perceive clearly, perhaps because of personal biases or limited information. We see truth as something that is difficult to grasp or pin down.

The things we find are hard to say now
That we live through day to day

Do you struggle to articulate your thoughts and experiences. You may feel overwhelmed by the complexity of the world around you, or you may be grappling with difficult emotions or circumstances.

Find it hard to force the reasons
Why we find it hard to die

A feeling of hopelessness, reflecting on the mystery of human mortality and the meaning of life.

As we look to see the man of sorrows
Passing knowledge to those who don’t know

Is the “man of sorrows” a reference to Jesus Christ, who is often depicted as a figure of suffering and compassion in Christian theology?

The line suggests that this figure is offering guidance or insight to those who are open to receiving it.

As we watch all our friends passing over
As they pass through the edges of time

The passage of time and the inevitability of death.

Steve Harris had to deal with a loss of a family member and a close friend during the writing and recording of this album.

The passing of friends and loved ones, has led Harris to contemplate the meaning of life and mortality.

From the Thin Lizzy like harmonies to the lead breaks the whole solo section is excellent.

Empire Of The Clouds

It’s long. 18 minutes in length but this song will be seen as a masterpiece if it isn’t seen that way already.

Written by Bruce Dickinson.

The track tells the story of the “British R101” airship, which crashed in northern France on 5 October 1930 during its maiden voyage.

Over the course of various interviews during the album’s release, we found out that the song was written entirely by Bruce Dickinson, who initially intended it to be about “World War I fighter aeroplanes.”

Dickinson abandoned the idea after using the same theme for the song “Death or Glory,” also from The Book of Souls.

At the time of recording, Dickinson was reading “a big, sort of encyclopedic crash report” of the R101, entitled “To Ride the Storm”.

It took Dickinson about a month to compose the song during the recording sessions.

The track features Dickinson’s debut on piano and the rest of the band had to play along to this piano track while following instructions from Dickinson and producer Kevin Shirley.

And how good is that piano riff and melody. It sounds like it’s out of sync with the metronome but that’s what makes it sound even better.

And when Dickinson starts singing with the catch cry “to ride the storm”, you stop and pay attention.

To ride the storm, to an empire of the clouds
To ride the storm, they climbed aboard their silver ghost
To ride the storm, to a kingdom that will come
To ride the storm, and damn the rest, oblivion

At 6.35, the guitars play the Intro piano melody and at 7.00 the song changes tact. The Instrumental section starts with all playing SOS Morse Code.

Then the best part of the song. A melodic lead in a Major Key kicks in at about 7.10 and I’m stopped in my tracks.

These harmonies continue to 10.04, when the first of the individual leads kicks in.

At 10.35, the song changes feel and tempo. And the riff.

Wow. It gets the foot tapping and the head banging.

At 11.00 it goes back to one of those harmony riffs.

And like Chekov’s Gun, they bring back that riff from 10.35 with a vocal melody at 12.31.

Anton Chekhov is a Russian playwright and he famously said that “if a gun is introduced in the first act of a play, it should be fired by the third.”

This riff is like the gun.

And at 13.00 it changes tact again, more operatic and cinematic. And progressive.

But at 13.40, that riff is fired again.

The empire of the clouds, just ashes in our past

On 11 March 2016, the band announced that the song would be released as a 12″ picture disc single for Record Store Day limited to 5,500 copies, using the front cover of the Daily Mirror from 6 October 1930 as the cover artwork. The single’s B-side features an interview with Dickinson and McBrain, entitled “Maiden Voyage”, in which they recount the song’s creation.

In conclusion, “The Book of Souls” is an album that showcases Iron Maiden’s musical brilliance, passion, and maturity.

The songs are not to formula as they don’t have the weight of MTV or label pressures to do that. What you get is an album that allows the musicians to follow their creative muses.

I wouldn’t walk out of a concert if any of these songs came up in the setlist and for that, this album has aged well.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Shattered

From Trading Yesterday.

A band project from David Hodges.

He walked away from Evanescence before “Fallen” exploded and after it he become a new Jim Vallance or Desmond Child or Max Martin in the song writing world of modern/pop rock.

But a musician needs to create and sometimes their creative output outweighs what the big labels require. So Hodges started to form some projects.

Let’s go back to 2003. Hodges and Mark Colbert began to collaborate and formed Trading Yesterday, recording music from an apartment setup.

A demo album listening party attracted the attention of Epic Records.

They finally got the green light to record an album and it was finished during the first half of 2005.

But.

The label deal with Epic fell apart which meant the “More Than This” album was shelved.

Sound familiar.

Welcome to label purgatory.

After returning to independent status, the band had their first demo album “The Beauty and the Tragedy” reprinted for sale on February 25, 2006.

Due to leaving Epic, “More Than This” was unable to be released due to licensing. However, the entire album leaked to the internet in December 2006. Thank you, Mr Internet.

“Shattered” is from that album, which finally got an official release in 2011 on an independent label created by David Hodges.

It is a hauntingly beautiful ballad that explores the pain and heartbreak of a failed relationship. But in this case, the failed relationship is between David Hodges and his faith.

The song starts off with a gentle piano melody that sets the tone for the emotional journey to unfold.

Yesterday I died, tomorrow’s bleeding, I fall into your sunlight

With “yesterday I died”, the phrase represents a significant loss or change that feels like a death. This could be a literal death of someone close, or a metaphorical death of a relationship or a part of oneself.

“Tomorrow’s bleeding” could suggest that further pain or difficulty is anticipated in the future. The use of the word “bleeding” creates an image of something raw or exposed.

“I fall into your sunlight” is seeking comfort or refuge in someone or something that brings light or positivity into our lives. The phrase “fall into” suggests a surrender or a letting go, allowing ourselves to be embraced by this source of warmth and hope.

And the song really comes to life at the 2.13 mark. There is a quiet piano. It’s melodic, haunting and yet hopeful.

Then the acoustic guitars come in and vocals.

There’s a light, there’s the sun
Taking all the shattered ones
To the place we belong, and his love will conquer

“There’s a light, there’s the sun” is interpreted as a metaphor for hope and positivity. The light and the sun represent brightness, warmth, and clarity, which can help dispel darkness and confusion.

“Taking all the shattered ones” are the people who are broken or wounded in some way. The phrase “shattered ones” could be a metaphor for people who have experienced trauma, heartbreak, or disappointment.

“To the place we belong” could be interpreted as a metaphorical destination, a place where the “shattered ones” can find a sense of belonging and acceptance. This could be a literal place, such as a community or a home, or a more abstract concept, such as a state of mind or a spiritual dimension.

“And his love will conquer” could be interpreted as a reference to a higher power or a divine force that can help heal and transform the “shattered ones”. The phrase “his love” could refer to the love of God or some other spiritual figure, or it could be a more general reference to the power of love and compassion.

Overall, this phrase conveys a sense of hope and optimism, that even those who are broken and wounded can find a sense of belonging and healing. It suggests that there is a higher power or a force of love that can help overcome adversity and bring people together.

The band announced in 2007 that they would change their name from “Trading Yesterday” to “The Age of Information”, with an EP, “Everything is Broken”, released on September, 2007.

But this whole project is forgotten. It shouldn’t be.

Press play on “Shattered”.

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