AMBITION – Ambition

AMBITION - Ambition


Frontiers Records
Release date: January 27, 2006

User Review
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More than likely not many have heard of vocalist Thom Griffin. Hopefully, that will all change after reading this review and going out and picking up a copy of his latest, self-titled project entitled Ambition. It’s hard to imagine that the once Trillion vocalist has been somewhat silent on the music scene for the last twenty some odd years.

Chalk up Griffin’s re-emergence to the Frontiers Records President Serafino Perugino, who has become a modern day Miracle Man, of sorts, by having a hand in a lot of quality Frontiers Records releases of late. Perugino is also listed as an Executive Producer, and was instrumental in getting this nearly shelved release and project to market. All should be thankful for Perugino’s efforts, as this platter is a true Melodic Rock gem, and it quite possibly beats the band Toto at their own game … yes it’s that good. In fact, oddly enough, this CD should be a mainstay on every Melodic Rocker’s CD tray. This release will end up vying for top spot on your CD tray while being in direct competition with this year’s excellent Toto release Falling In Between, also from the Frontiers label.

As a side note, before getting deep into the good stuff, most of the musical writings on this disc have been culled and penned by other authors (namely Joey Carbone, Terje Eide, Christian Wolff, and Brian LaBlanc). Worth mentioning indeed, but that shouldn’t change anyone’s impressions about the high quality of this release. The overall sound and the majority of the tracks fall into the category of Hard Melodic AOR-ish Rock, comparative to Toto’s The Seventh One and Isolation days, BUT even better. The Toto comparison was inevitable for several reasons. Ex-Toto vocalist Jean Michel Byron sings lead vocals on one track, writer Joey Carbone is the songwriting partner to ex-Toto vocalist Joseph Williams, and that’s not mentioning guitarist Tommy Denander’s past and current works with Toto members.

Now to talk about the “good stuff” … first, the musicianship on this album is top-notch throughout. Thom Griffin’s vocals are impressive, sounding melodic, clear, and non-faltering, while maintaining his own originality … where has this guy been hiding for twenty years? Griffin is an exceptional, emotional vocalist; he really comes out sounding top notch on this platter. While the album is a showcase for Griffin’s impressive AOR vocals, there also happens to be another standout here — one Tommy Denander on guitar. The amount of quality “air time” afforded Tommy Denander (probably the most in-demand and busiest session guitarist of this decade thus far) on guitar throughout this release is incredible and he uses every minute of it masterfully. Denander is afforded an abundant amount of time for guitar fills, melodic rhythms, and guitar soloing, sometimes even delivering multiple guitar solos in a single given song. Throughout the release, Denander’s playing is forefront in the mix, and his style is akin to and a step above that of Toto’s Steve Lukather. Quite frankly, this is possibly the most impact Denander’s playing has had on any of his multitude of session releases. The drumming of Yamasuka and Cannaiuolo are impressive as well. Their drumming styles have an almost Jazz quality and feel to them, which helps give the overall sound an uplifting tempo. Add in prominent, and skillful keyboard and bass lines by Grossi, and it all comes together quite nicely.

While each track has its own highlights, the musicianship comes to a head in the best track on the release, “Shaping Fate & Destiny,” which starts off with a killer riff of thick-sounding “Lukather-ish” guitar, accompanied by floating keyboard lines. This leads into Griffin’s melodic vocals and nice drum offbeats, laden with double succession high-hat snaps. “Make It Alright” is another clear-cut winner, even though it’s slightly more commercial sounding than “Shaping Fate & Destiny.” “Make It Alright” will mostly be remembered for having the most Melodic and moving solo by Denander. Did someone say “solo” as in singular? Sorry, the proper term to say is “solos,” as in plural … the second solo being more attention-grabbing than the first. “Together,” on the other hand, showcases Griffin’s vocal power during the moving and multi-layered chorus offered by this track. The weakest sounding track, and quite frankly it seems out of place, is the “bonus track” where Griffin duos with Joe Vana (Mecca). Thankfully, it’s at the end of the disc so most of the time one can bypass it.

Bottom line, this is one strong Melodic Rock release that should be on every AOR fan’s “must buy” list, especially if you’re a Denander fan. It’s full of superb singing, plenty of guitar, tight drumming and bass, catchy choruses, and clean production. Melodic Rock/AOR fans are getting class treatment early on in 2006. In the first two months of this year alone they’ve been treated to quality releases by Toto, Mad Max, and now Ambition! Just hope that Griffin and Denander (and maybe the whole session band?) have the “ambition” to schedule another Ambition project filled with, perhaps, their own songwriting.


Thom Griffin – Vocals (except on “Hunger”)
Jean Michel Byron – All Vocals on “Hunger”, “Hypocrites”, “Too Much”
Joe Vana – Vocals on “Waiting In My Dreams”
Tommy Denander – Guitar
Fabrizio V.Zee Grossi – Bass, Keyboards, Production
Masayoshi Yamasuka – Drums
Joachim Cannaiuolo – Drums
Serafino Perugino – Executive Producer


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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