I’m new to the bandwagon when it comes to new bands and artists. And one of them has suddenly landed on my lap which is Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius. They are a New York based band that formed 16 years ago and they have released their fifth studio album released on the Melodic Revolution Records label this year entitled, Guilty of Innocence. This is one of their frenzied and exaggerated releases I’ve listened from top to bottom and they’ve hit the erupt button in a big gigantic bang.
They’ve opened for artists such as Jethro Tull’s Martin Barre, Alex Skolnick of Testament, and Mickey Hart to name a few. While Joe’s vocal arrangements are brilliant, alongside his electric violin comparing to Curved Air’s Darryl Way, Mahavishnu Orchestra’s Jerry Goodman, and Frank Zappa alumni Jean-Luc Ponty, they take inspirations between Zappa, King Crimson, Yes, and Muse. Stratospheerius won the John Lennon International Songwriting Competition, The Musician’s Atlas, and the Independent Music Award.
Testament's Alex Skolnick, Renaissance’s Rave Tesar, and The Fringe’s Randy McStine appear on the album to lend Joe and the band, a helping hand to show support and knowing they’ve got their backs. Alongside Joe Deninzon, it considers; Aurelien Budynek on Guitar and Backing Vocals, Jamie Bishop on Bass and Backing Vocals, and Lucianna Padmore on Drums.
The five highlights on here are enduring and make you imagine as I’ve always say, “A movie inside your head.” Face has this essence of Gentle Giant’s Acquiring the Taste and Octopus-era on the introduction as the crashing waves hitting the sailing ships as Joe is almost the captain fighting the waves and thunderstorms hitting the boat as his bandmates make sure the ship is steady and try to make towards the surface and not plummet 5,000 fathoms below their sinking doom.
Their take of Muse’s Hysteria from their third studio album in 2003, Absolution is spot on. I love how they do this Spaghetti-Western nod to Ennio Morricone’s Man with No Name trilogy before it goes into interstellar. Jamie’s bass sets forward the space ship into the cosmos as Deninzon’s vocals honors Matt Bellamy with a nod to Frank Zappa thrown into the time signature mixes.
The spaghetti western comes back into the blender of adding the tension thanks to Lucianna’s drumming between Joe and Aurelien getting ready to draw their instruments as weapons in the hottest part of the afternoon of wah-wah violins and guitars for dueling riff at the O.K. Corral on a Game of Chicken while they head to the mothership with a funky groove of a reminiscing intro of David Bowie’s Stay with the Affluenza.
The lyrics deal with the issue on being betrayed and the real person who is doing the hurting is almost as if they are looking in the mirror to find out what kind of worst enemy or the monster they have finally become and knowing that their time is nearly up. Then, we come to the finale of the 12-minute epic, Soul Food.
It makes this jump to light-speed as the first six minutes of epic is part Supertramp’s Crime of the Century-era to Rush’s golden-era from 1975 to 1977. Alex takes center stage to lend Stratospheerius a helping hand as he takes the ship home back to Earth. Then the last five minutes becomes this classical, folky aftermath of coming home. It transforms into this piano concerto that Rave Tesar does that essence of Tony Banks at times.
It suddenly transforms into a rising melody with a nod to Queen II. The vocalizations near end is not only fantastic, but it’s almost as if they are cheering and supporting by throwing confetti for the heroes return for a job well done and then everything screeches at the last 30 seconds for this twist of thunderstorm and wind fade out.
Again, I’m new to Stratospheerius and Joe Deninzon’s music, but Guilty of Innocence is right in my alley. I have to say I was very impressed the moment I put the CD on my old portable CD player. It was like a breath of fresh air all over again and going back and finding out some of the bands and artists to watch out for rather than watch some fail on American Idol. Guilty of Innocence is not only great, but one of the most hectic and heart-stopping albums I’ve listened to.
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