One Ticket To Paradise is Hungryheart's sophomore album after their self titled debut in 2008. I missed that one so this is my first acquaintance with this Italian melodic rock quartet. Since I have had positive experiences recently with Italian bands such as Edge of Forever, Shining Line and Power Quest, I cannot suppress a feeling of anxiety to get this into my CD player.
The first five tracks fulfil all my hopes and deliver the goods. Strong, guitar driven, melodic rock with great melodies and soaring choruses are highlighted by the great power ballads 'A Million Miles Away' and 'Let Somebody Love You'.
But after these tracks it seems the direction changes slowly but surely. With tracks like 'Angela', Let's Keep On Trying', 'Just A Little Closer', and 'Get Lost' all of a sudden I find myself listening to a classic or even blues rock disc. Don't get me wrong though, there is nothing wrong with solid classic rock and I am sure that the aforementioned tracks will satisfy the true classic rock fans, but it's not my cup of tea.
More black clouds are rolling in towards the end with 'Man in the Mirror' a cover of a Michael Jackson original. First off, I am not a great fan of covers, recycling is for glass or old paper, not for music. However, in few cases, it can bring some benefit. However, MJ on a rock album must be close to an insult, no matter how well it's done. The disc ends with the semi acoustic ballad 'You Won't Be Alone' that brings some consolation with its southern flavour but never really gets going.
In the end, One Ticket To Paradise has left me puzzled. Is this melodic rock? It certainly is, as long as you consider the first five tracks. But if you think you are buying a melodic rock or AOR disc you better save you money, because in that case half the disc is not a great value. On the other hand, if you are looking for a classy classic rock disc you came to the right place. Nevertheless, I can name a few bands (Tesla, Thunder, Stormzone) that are equally good in that department but stick to their task better.
One Ticket To Paradise stands out with great musicianship, solid production and great guitar work by Mario Percudani but it still leaves you with a feeling of 'what could have been'. Maybe the next Hungryheart record will be more coherent. The first five tracks of One Ticket to Paradise would cause me to check that out.