FarCry – High Gear (2009, Kivel Records)
- Love Won’t Wait
- Fine Line
- Have It All
- Nowhere Fast
- Out Of Reach
- Kick Me Down
- She’s Crazy
- The Same Mistake
- Talk To Me
- Those Were The Days
Mark Giovi – Lead Vocals
Pete Fry – Guitars & Vocals
Chris Ryan – Drums
John Leonardis – Bass & Vocals
Producer: Ty Sims
Total Time = 47:01
HIGH GEAR is the debut by American Melodic Rock band FarCry and it turned out to be one of the biggest surprises of 2009. I started to hear some buzz about a new band on Kivel Records over the summer but I didn’t get around to checking out the band until October. Once I heard a few songs I ordered the album immeadiately and HIGH GEAR has been in my daily playlist ever since.
The overall sound is a combination of AOR, Melodic Rock and Hard Rock that reminds me of bands like Def Leppard, Danger Danger, Poison, Bon Jovi and Firehouse in their ’80s prime. You could also probably add some Journey and Survivor in their more for the AOR side of things, that’s not a bad combination at all. The music is full of memorable hooks and great guitar work and the lead vocals and harmonies are superb, it’s music like this that really sticks with you and makes you come back for more. Every song on the album has that hook that gets you singing along, playing some air guitar and pounding out the beat with your hands. The overall sound may seem a little dated, it has that specific ’80s production that gives the music that BIG sound, but it’s very refreshing to hear a band come out and play really good music with solid musicianship and good songwriting.
Opening song ‘Love Won’t Wait’ starts the album off with an uptempo ’80s Hard Rock style with big guitars and big harmonies and that was enough for me to hear, I immeadiately knew I would like this album a lot. ‘Fine Line’ follows and takes a mid-tempo pace but remains powerful with soaring vocals, big harmonies and excellent guitar. You could probably call this a ballad type of song but it has this power to it that keeps it heavy while it maintains it’s melody. The music gets a heavier edge to it with the guitar crunch of ‘Have It All’, another rocker that isn’t as fast as ‘Love Won’t Wait’ but faster than ‘Fine Line’. The guitar on ‘Have It All’ is excellent, as it is on all of HIGH GEAR, and the solo is one of the best I’ve heard in 2009. It brings a smile to my face to hear a band take the time to get a guitar solo perfect, it adds so much to the song. ‘Heaven’ is the first proper ballad and, if this was 20 years ago, FarCry would have a Top 10 hit. The harmonies on the chorus are infectiously perfect and the band channels the best of Extreme, Firehouse, Saigon Kick and Tyketto…..this is definitely one of the best songs on the album.
The tempo picks up to all out Hard Rock again with ‘Nowhere Fast’. Turns out that this song is a cover song written by Jim Steinman and performed originally by Fire Inc. in 1984 but more famously covered by Steinman’s partner Meat Loaf in 1985 on the BAD ATTITUDE album. Now I had no idea that this was a cover so it became one of my favorites on the album and, having never heard the Fire Inc. and Meat Loaf versions, I have nothing to compare it to. Therefore, I cannot disqualify this song based on it’s cover song designation…..plus, it really kicks ass! ‘Out Of Reach’ reminds me of Poison when Bret Michaels tries to do that low Country vocal. It’s another catchy song that grabs your ear and the solo is another triumph but what I like most is that acoustic guitar base…..I’m always a sucker for acoustic based songs! The vocals and harmonies are perfectly done here again, the band really hits on all cylinders on the entire album. That Poison vibe makes it’s second impression on ‘Kick Me Down’ and is that some cowbell I hear? The track is more uptempo Melodic Rock, and it’s good, but this would be the first song that maybe falls a notch below the rest…..an “I’ve heard that already” feeling. That feeling goes away with the Enuff Z’nuff sounding ‘She’s Crazy’. I swear when I heard the opening vocal lines of the song I thought that Donnie Vie had a guest vocal but it’s all Mark Giovi, a guy that’s turning into one of my favorite singers of recent memory. The similarities with Enuff Z’nuff goes away for a tougher sound on the bridge and chorus but it’s all ’80s Hard Rock complete with another infectious solo from Pete Fry. ‘She’s Crazy’ is one of my favorites from the album.
Ballad #2 comes around with the soft starting ‘The Same Mistake’ but the song moves into a slightly harder edge to it. This song is another one that I get that “I’ve heard it before” feeling with but it’s still a solid song, just a notch below the rest of the album. ‘Talk To Me’ starts off with a quick guitar line that reminds me of part of Van Halen’s ‘Can’t Stop Lovin’ You’ but it’s gone pretty quick. This is another uptempo melodic track that gets it’s edge from the guitar and the harmonies but…..it turns out this is a cover. Now usually I take off major points for a cover song and having two on an album is going in a Great White or Krokus direction! I didn’t know that ‘Talk To Me’ was originally recorded in 1998 by a Norwegian AOR/Melodic Rock band Hush so I can’t really disqualify this song either because I’ve never heard the original and FarCry puts on another solid performance. What bothers me though is that it’s obvious FarCry is talented and can write great songs so I hope that this isn’t a trend the band repeats when their second record comes out. Ending the album is another uptempo ’80s party rocker ‘Those Were The Days’, another song with a memorable chorus and big catchy harmonies to go along with some great axe work. If this were back in the day, I could easily see this song as one of those “parking lot” tunes that we used to blast out on car stereos and boomboxes.
FarCry came out of nowhere and easily became one of my favorite new bands and HIGH GEAR became one of my favorite albums of the year. All the songs are top quality and they have all the signature ’80s qualities I grew up on: soaring vocals, big harmonies, guitar heroics and solid songwriting with a ton of memorable hooks. If this debut album came out 20-25 years ago then FarCry would be one of the big success stories from the ’80s. The bottom line is that this is perfect AOR/Melodic Rock that sounds a bit dated but is also refreshing to hear singers sing and musicians play. Normally I would kill this band/album for the 2 cover songs but they are great tunes and the band does them well…..I actually like them better then a couple of the originals on this album! HIGH GEAR is still in my daily playlist and it made #11 on my Top 40 Albums of 2009. FarCry has released an awesome debut album, I can’t wait to hear what they do for a follow-up!
‘Love Won’t Wait’, ‘Heaven’, ‘She’s Crazy’, ‘Those Were The Days’, ‘Nowhere Fast’