Journey, the Kings of American AOR, are back, and this may be the best album they’ve made for many years. Sure, there are a lot of the key elements they’ve built their reputation on over the years, some may be a little too familiar, but Freedom sees them unleash the more metallic side of their nature.
Journey – Freedom (Frontiers Music Srl)
Release Date: Out Now
Words: Paul Monkhouse
This is no “Journey go Thrash” change, of course, the band’s big melodies and hooks are central to everything they do, but it’s nice to hear them really let loose and release some of their toughest music to date.
Kicking off, Jonathan Cain’s piano-led intro to Together We Run soon gives way to the driving chorus, its soaring feel typifying the core sound that American Rock Radio so loved. Don’t Give Up On Us is equally as familiar, echoes of the drive of Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) but missing some of the crunch that made it so great, ballad Still Believe In Love solid but hardly hitting any heights.
Fortunately, You Got The Best Of Me sees Neal Schon finding his mojo once again, the tough riff and ballsy power a slap in the face to all those who thought they’d given up on decibels years ago.
This certainly feels like a rebirth and is the true jump-off point for the album where even the smattering of anthemic or achingly positive ballads and more mid-paced numbers feel, frankly, bigger and with more purpose.
First single, The Way We Used To Be, has all the swinging, cocksure bounce that acted as a bold opening statement, the title in itself setting their stall out as they announce their determination to regain their place at the top of the tree.
The band also swagger on the muscular dirty blues of Let It Rain, adding touches of funk to the mix in All Day And All Night, making its Foreigner meets Def Leppard meets AC/DC feel even brighter.
After the heavy-duty rockers Come Away With Me, Holdin’ On and Don’t Go that pepper Freedom, the band really lean into the tumultuous finish of Beautiful As You Are, the album-closing not on a heavy riff barrage but something equally as bracing and, ultimately, epic.
With singer Arnel Pineda well and truly showing once again that he was the right man for the job and Neal Schon turning his guitar up to eleven, it’s a fine return to form for San Francisco’s finest.
Journey – Freedom
Together We Run
Don’t Give Up On Us
Still Believe In Love
You Got The Best Of Me
Live To Love Again
The Way We Used To Be
Come Away With Me
Let It Rain
All Day and All Night
United We Stand
Life Rolls On
Beautiful As You Are