Mix-and-match metal heroes are ‘Iconic’ on project disc

Iconic, “Second Skin” (Frontiers)

Like all good cooks from their country, the folks at Italian record label Frontiers know that the secret to great cooking lies in experimenting: Tossing a pinch of this with a spoon of that and adding a shake of something else. The label specializes in one-off project albums mixing and matching heavy metal artists from disparate backgrounds to write and record new music together.

Sometimes, like a bad risotto, the whole thing needs to be tossed in the trash. Other times, however, they hit on a tasty combination, and they’ve put together a good one in Iconic.

Iconic features Stryper singer and guitarist Michael Sweet; guitarist Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake, Trans-Siberian Orchestra); legendary metal drummer Tommy Aldridge (Whitesnake and Ozzy Osbourne, among many others) and bassist Marco Mendoza (Black Star Riders, Ted Nugent, Dead Daisies).

The one drawback to this project is its failure to make more use of Sweet’s one-of-a-kind voice, which is instantly recognizable, and still as strong and soaring as it was in the early ’80s when Stryper were MTV darlings.

The band was assembled to showcase up-and-coming vocalist Nathan James, a husky, blues-influenced vocalist who sounds more than a bit like Jeff Scott Soto, guitar legend Yngwie Malmsteen’s singer in the early ’80s. And while songs like “Fast As You Can,” in which he trades lead vocals with Sweet, and “Nowhere To Run” are solid old-school metal tracks, I could do with more Sweet vocals, at least a 50-50 split.

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