Orianthi - Heaven In This Hell
After what seems a very long wait Orianthi's first solo album since joining the Alice Cooper band has finally arrived.
When it was first announced the Australian guitar progeny, who was most famous for working with Michael Jackson on his aborted (by his death) final tour, was joining the band many suggested it was just a pure publicity stunt to promote both artists. Time has shown that this wasn't that pre-meditated as Orianthi has grown into her part in the group and has stayed the distance for the last two years and counting. This has probably played a big part in the long run up to this record's release as Alice's touring schedule unavoidably takes up a huge amount of her time, alone with the countless guest appearances she does with other artists.
Her guitar chops are pretty much indisputable. She's a phenominal guitarist with a great voice and that shows throughout this album. Opening with the title track she sets the tone for the best of the songs here with a heavy Hendrix-ish guitar sound which is heavy as hell, much heavier then her previous solo releases would suggest. Much of this is likely due to the way song songs have been produced. This is a mixed record, with sone songs having the guitar right up front while others pull it back lower in the mix, perhaps to make it more radio friendly. Just listen to the way she lifts off come the first guitar break in 'Heaven In This Hell'. Then there is a beautiful acoustic outro. Great stuff.
'You Don't Wanna Know' pulls things back a little with another cool solo before 'Fire' (the title track of an earlier EP) has her showing off a little slide guitar in a song similar in sound to the title track.
'If U Think U Know Me' lightens the tone for a more commercial pop/rock that has single written all over it, the backing leads lower in the mix.
'How Do You Sleep' is a slow blues again highlighting Ori's Hendrix/Santana influences before 'Frozen brings back the big Hendrix riffs again and catchy choruses.
'Rock' is, ironically given the title, a more laid back pop song while 'Another You' is a power ballad, again prime single material which with the right promo (some hope) could bring her another hit in the US.
'How Does It Feel' starts as an acoustic based soul song with a beatbox(?) in place of real drums. This doesn't do much for me to be honest until it picks up in the middle for the solo with a full band kicking in.
'Filthy Blues' is down and dirty in a kinda ZZ Top kinda way and fits it's title well while 'If U Were Here With Me' is the second ballad highlighting the guitarists emotion filled voice. 'Better With You' closes the album with another pop/rock AOR track which wouldn`t be out of place on US radio.
All in all the album shows a range of material from the pure heavy rock of the title track to more radio friendly fare. All is of a high quality and the guitar playing throughout is flawless, but I can't help but think it could be improved by sticking more to the heavier style rather then trying to mix that with radio friendly songs. But then that's probably as much my personal taste as anything as much of the more AOR material leaves me wishing the songs had been approached in a more aggresive manner. It's not the songs, it's the production choices. Having said that if you like Journey etc then these could well be your favourite tracks!