Cross Your Heart
Released: 2013, Solar Flare Records
When you hail from Birmingham, UK and you are a metal band, the expectations are instantly raised a notch, considering the city is the birth of this beloved style of music that we call heavy metal. Let me also be clear, this is not the punk rock band of the same name either. Daylight Robbery is an example of the many countless bands that have formed through the years without ever releasing an album. The difference here is that the band, which formed in the early 90s, reformed in 2010 and a year later released their first album, heard mostly by a few crickets in the studio parking lot. CROSS YOUR HEART is that album, being re-released to prep fans for the soon to be unleashed new album, and doubtless to reach a wider audience than that limited initial release did. Consisting of five highly knowledgeable 80s metal blokes, Daylight Robbery’s CROSS YOUR HEART would have been a home run circa 1986, and may still yet, with the revival still going strong.
The band’s label calls it a cross between Tyketto, Journey, and Europe and this is mostly accurate. However, CROSS YOUR HEART is noticeably heavier than any Journey album and contains many elements of NWOBHM and early US Metal. Other worthy comparisons would be House of Shakira and Steelhouse Lane. The opening title track is retro magic, the band taking aim and hitting the bull’s eye in achieving a vintage 80s sound that is infectious and melodic, solos appropriately tasteful. The following tune “Shame On You” is closer to old Europe but not Final Countdown era. No, this is more like WINGS OF TOMORROW glory, and the opening riff is similar to “Stormwind” while the verse riff rules in its melodic simplicity and hook. “1,000 Point Of Light” would be the fast tune, while the expected ballad is “Crossing The Great Divide.” There are no weak links in this band, each song being memorable and complete, with lasting choruses that leave their imprint. Tony Nicholl is a great vocalist, gifted with a wide range and a pleasing timbre. He is matched by the band at every step, and while 80s sounding keyboards are not always an asset, the songs on here are too-well written to be compromised by them.
There is one unfortunate and sizeable flaw; a muddy and dull production that robs the guitars of any cutting edge. In this case, the band went retro once again, the sound resembling a production disaster that was the symptom of many of Mike Varney’s Shrapnel label albums (let’s face it, the production nearly ruined Racer X’s early albums). I have not heard the original 2011 pressing of CROSS YOUR HEART, so I do not know what kind of source material Solar Flare Records had to work with on the re-release. Maybe they did a fantastic job getting it to this point, but I kind of doubt it. Daylight Robbery deserved better, far better than the knob job that they got on this. In sum, this botched production is a testament to the strength of song on CROSS YOUR HEART, the fact that the album has still managed to earn repeated listens from me. Fans of AOR, hair metal, and hard rock will definitely want to check out Daylight Robbery.