Spread Eagle: ‘Subway To The Stars’

SPREAD EAGLE
SUBWAY TO THE STARS
Released on August 9, 2019 (Frontiers Music Srl)

Review:
In 1990, a New York City band named Spread Eagle (at the time consisting of members Rob De Luca, Ray West, Paul Di Bartolo, and Tommi Gallo) was signed to MCA Records. Categorizing their sound and attitude as “Pure NYC Street Metal,” Spread Eagle released two albums — 1990’s self-titled debut album, and 1993’s Open To The Public. With sparse promotion from their record label, followed by the advent of grunge rock’s popularity, Spread Eagle first disbanded in 1995. In 2006, Spread Eagle reformed. However, the band had not done extensive touring, nor had it released an album. That was until August 9, 2019, when Subway To The Stars was released on Frontiers Music Srl.

In an interview conducted on October 15, 2019 with Rockin’ You All Night, bassist Rob De Luca (who also shares producing and engineering duties on Subway to the Stars with Tom Camuso) explained the extended hiatus between Spread Eagle‘s albums. De Luca told interviewer Ryan Witting, “We weren’t thinking about recording. We were thinking about just doing regional shows. We went to Europe. Then, we had this offer from Frontiers Records, and the time was right.” Rob De Luca‘s 14-year tenure as Sebastian Bach‘s touring bassist, not to mention the fact that De Luca has played in excess of 500 live concerts (since 2008) as the bassist for UFO, would more than justify the delay in recording this third Spread Eagle album.

Subway To The Stars features Spread Eagle‘s most formidable line-up, which also happens to be half of the band’s original line-up. In addition to Rob De Luca (whose credentials will eventually earn him a spot in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame as a member of UFO), founding member Ray West (whose band All Pointz West has had several songs featured in various TV and film soundtracks over the past decade, including FX‘s Sons of Anarchy) is back to handle vocal duties. Rik De Luca, who previously teamed with his cousin, Rob De Luca, in their band Of Earth on their 2010 self-titled debut album and 2013 album, The Monarch, is the man behind the drum kit on Subway To The Stars. Guitarist / producer, Ziv Shalev, whose impressive credentials include being an ASCAP Award winner, playing guitar for actress / comedian / singer Sandra Bernhard, co-producing and playing guitar on ESPN South America, and doing audio mastering for Music By Prudence (which received an Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject) in 2009), brings his expertise to Spread Eagle by playing lead and rhythm guitars on Subway To The Stars. During his October 15, 2019 interview on Rockin’ You All Night, Rob De Luca, said, in regards to this incarnation of Spread Eagle, “We’re not just dialing it in. We have high hopes. We’re shooting for the stars, quite literally. We’re going to push until we get there.”

From the opening notes, and screams of the album’s title track, De Luca‘s aforementioned words about “not just dialing it in” ring true. Lead singer Ray West shows that he has lost nothing in terms of his vocal ability. “Subway To The Stars,” with its fast-paced, high-energy, aggressive sound picks up exactly where 1993’s Open To The Public left off. The album’s second track “29th of February,” which was co-written by Rob and Rik De Luca, features drumming and guitar parts, written by Rik De Luca, that have a sound and vibe reminiscent of 1992’s Revenge by KISSSubway To The Stars‘ third track, “Sound of Speed”, which was released (with accompanying music video) as the album’s first single, is straight forward, hard rocking, speed metal. Guitarist Ziv Shalev, who lists his production and playing on The Vinyl Stash‘s Variety Bash album as one of the works of which he is most proud of, really shines on “Sound of Speed.” Shalev‘s guitar playing is both phenomenal and flawless. Track four, “Dead Air,” features dark, brooding lyrics by Rob De Luca, as well as thunderous drums by Rik De Luca, and more exemplary guitar work from Shalev. Additionally, cellist Yoed Nir is featured on “Dead Air.”

In regards to writing music, during his October 15, 2019 interview, Rob De Luca stated, “Definitely, ’70s Aerosmith is a big muse for me. I don’t think that I write anything like them, but I always listen to them as much as possible when I’m trying to get into writing mode. Since a very early age, I was in very tune with lyrics from The Beatles and Bernie Taupin with Elton John. I knew every word to every Elton John song, practically. So, I would say, that’s some of my influences.” That being said, it may surprise some upon listening to track five, “Grand Scam.” Lyrically, “Grand Scam” is Subway To The Stars‘ most radio-unfriendly track, not that that is a bad thing. “Grand Scam” shows that every member of Spread Eagle is still at the peak of their respective powers with its Anthrax-esque trash metal sound.

“More Wolf Than Lamb,” the sixth track on Subway To The Stars, features a heavy bass line courtesy of Rob De Luca, and hauntingly powerful vocals courtesy of Ray West. Lyrically, sonically, and thematically, “More Wolf Than Lamb” would have fit perfectly as a track on Black Sabbath‘s 1992 album Dehumanizer. As such, “More Wolf Than Lamb” shows that Spread Eagle cannot be considered as glam rock, pop rock, hair metal, or even, simply, as just a hard rock band. “More Wolf Than Lamb” is heavy, and it is metal.

Track seven, “Cut Through,” is slightly more melodic that its predecessor. Once again, Ziv Shalev shows his guitar prowess on this track. Is there any doubt that in Shalev, Spread Eagle may have an emerging guitar hero on their hands? There shouldn’t be. “Little Serpentina” is track number eight, and it is lyrically laden with powerful imagery, strong symbolism and musical metaphors. In “Little Serpentina,” Rob De Luca‘s poetry is going to require the deeper thinker and lyrical inquirer to be at the top of his or her game.

“Antisocial Butterfly,” the ninth track on Subway To The Stars, is co-written by West, Shalev, and Rob De Luca. Lyrically, the songs seems to be a commentary on a prevailing culture and attitude that focuses on image instead of intellectuality. “Gutter Rhymes For Valentines,” possibly the album’s best track, both musically and lyrically, is flawless. “Gutter Rhymes For Valentines” is something of a cross pollination of 1987’s “Rag Doll” by Aerosmith and 2006’s “Welcome To The Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance. Rob De Luca‘s lyrics and tight bass line, Ray West‘s harmonic and melodic vocals, Rik De Luca‘s precision drumming, and Ziv Shalev‘s phenomenal guitar work are all showcased on “GRFV.” “Gutter Rhymes for Valentines” is bound to be a staple in Spread Eagle‘s live concert setlist on upcoming tours.

The eleventh and final track on Subway To The Stars, is the radio-friendly “Solitaire.” Original Spread Eagle guitarist, Paul Di Bartolo, shares writing credits with Ray West and Rob De Luca on this track. Unlike the rest of the album, which is hard, fast, and heavy, “Solitaire” is a ballad, driven by acoustic guitar. The proverbial spotlight shines on the power and clarity of Ray West‘s vocals during “Solitaire,” which might be tailor-made to be performed as an encore during Spread Eagle‘s upcoming concerts in 2020.

Subway To The Stars offers songs that are melodic, yet, unapologetic, with a sound that is new, yet, familiar, and in doing so, is an exemplar of excellence among rock albums. Spread Eagle’s public is still being formed. Spread Eagle will be increasingly listened to as performers, and the band members will be increasingly respected as artists. Spread Eagle bassist Rob De Luca was quoted as saying, “Everyone’s going to know us. Definitely. We will be a popular band.” And with an album of the quality of Subway To The Stars, it is going to be difficult to disagree with De Luca‘s statements.

Track List:
01. Subway To The Stars
02. 29th of February
03. Sound of Speed
04. Dead Air
05. Grand Scam
06. More Wolf Than Lamb
07. Cut Through
08. Little Serpentina
09. Antisocial Butterfly
10. Gutter Rhymes For Valentines
11. Solitaire

Band Members:
Ray West – lead vocals
Rob De Luca – bass, vocals
Ziv Shalev – guitars
Rik De Luca – drums, percussion

Production:
Produced and engineered by Rob De Luca and Tom Camuso

Band Websites:
Official Website
Facebook

Reviewed by Ryan Witting from Rockin’ You All Night (YouTube, Soundcloud) for Sleaze Roxx, December 2019

Spread Eagle‘s “Sound of Speed” video:

Spread Eagle – “Sound Of Speed” (Official Music Video)

Subscribe here for more videos – http://radi.al/SubscribeFrontiers | From the album SUBWAY TO THE STARS. Get your copy NOW: http://radi.al/SubwayToTheStars | A limited amount of signed copies of the album available HERE: https://shop.bandwear.com/Frontiers Follow the “Rock Ain’t Dead” playlist on Spotify to keep up with all the new songs we release each week: http://spoti.fi/1rQz5Zm Spread Eagle is back and will release their first album in over 26 years, “Subway To The Stars” via Frontiers Music SRL.