Joel Hoekstra’s 13
Dying to Live
Release date: October 16, 2015
It’s not very often that you happen upon an album that has something from every decade of metal on it, but this is one of those albums. Joel Hoekstra’s 13 newest release Dying to Live shows that it is possible and what an absolute delight it can be to listen to. For those of you that may not know who Joel is here’s a brief rundown. Joel was born and raised in Chicago by two classical trained musicians. He played piano and cello until hearing Angus Young and took up the guitar from there. He has been on Broadway Performing in “Rock of Ages” Toured with bands like Night Ranger and Foreigner, Plays with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and since august 2014 has been a member of Whitesnake, replacing Doug Aldrich. One thing that made this album work so well is that Joel was very definitive of the sounds he was looking to capture and chose the musicians that would get the job done. Joel Hoekstra’s 13 consists of Joel Hoekstra on guitar, Tony Franklin (The Firm, Blue Murder) on bass, Derek Sherinian (Dream Theatre, Black County Communion) on keys, Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, Dio) on drums, and two stellar vocalists Jeff Scott Soto (Journey, Yngwie Malmsteen) and Russel Allen (Adrenaline mob, Symphony X). That’s a formula for a kick ass album and that is what they delivered.
“Say Goodbye to the Sun” starts Dying to Live off with a very powerful Dio sounding rocker. This is a very solid performance from everyone and an incredible tradeoff between Joel and Derek in the solo. While they may not be a twin guitar group, with Derek on keys, you would almost swear that they are. “Anymore” is another old school Style rocker with a Dokken feel. Again it is very solid throughout with a very hooky chorus but the middle breakdown will conjure up memories of eighties Whitesnake. Once again it is a phenomenal track to listen and sign along with. “Scream” is another standout track with a very Europe feel to it. It’s a very solid rocker with a hint of classical inspiration interwoven throughout this track. And once again there is an amazing tradeoff between Joel and Derek in the solo. I fully believe that this is possible because of the solid rhythm section that Vinny and Tony provide allow Joel and Derek to have fun and battle back and forth.
“Never say Never” has, in my opinion, the best vocal track of this album. While every song has a story to tell this one is uplifting and has the powerful vocals to match. Add to that the hookiest chorus that I’ve heard since the eighties and you have the formula for a song to last the ages. “Changes” is a great mid-tempo rocker with a Whitesnake feel to it. The melodies are very haunting and very soulful. This is one of the best examples of how less is sometimes more. “What we Believe” is an amazing duet with a middle eastern feel that showcases some of the amazing talent in this group. Also singing on this track is Chloe Lowery(Trans-Siberian Orchestra). This track exemplifies what thinking outside the box can do and how to do it right. What an incredible way to close Dying to Live. This is the part where a standing ovation would be the proper gesture.
Joel Hoekstra’s 13 has put out an incredible album and, for us fans, I can’t say thank you enough. Dying to Live has all the elements to be one of the classic albums people are still talking about in twenty years. This album is definitely on my list for one of the top albums of the year because it has something for everyone on it from eighties style rockers and ballads to today’s drop tuned growls, nobody has been left behind. Just take a listen and remember what it felt like to be swept away by truly talented and dedicated musicians that are all about the songs and not the hype. Just sit back and enjoy.
Reviewed by Dave 1340