Toby Hitchcock rose to melodic rock fame when former Survivor founding member Jim Peterik chose him as the lead singer for Pride of Lions. While the band remains on temporary hiatus, Frontiers Records paired Hitchcock with Erik Martensson, the powerhouse player and songwriter behind W.E.T. for the former' solo debut, Mercury's Down. This is a fine match, like doubled-stuffed Oreos and milk, creating simply solid AOR melodic rock.
The showcase player here is supposed to be Hitchcock's impressive vocal talent. Yet, Martensson's musicianship, song craftsmanship, and production certainly adds an immense amount of polish and presence. Frankly, any vocalist would be lucky to have this caliber of support behind him on their premier.
But the principal, Toby Hitchcock, is a formidable and strong presence. A single listen to Summer Nights in Cabo or Let Go, two steady, soaring, melodic rockers, or the ballad One Day I'll Stop Loving You, proves persuasively how powerful his voice is. The music tends to the heavier side at times, and Hitchcock rises to the challenge on the charging numbers This is the Moment and Tear Down the Barricades. Alternatively, Toby is equally compelling on the arena ready, smooth, and quite catchy, tunes Strong Enough, I Should Have Said, and the positive minded If It's to Be. Hitchcock is inherently both powerful and versatile throughout this album.
In between, of course, is the fine support of Martensson, especially on lead guitar, which spices many of the songs, to create a soaring quality. Perhaps, the only drawback is that most every song ranges to the heavier side of melodic rock. Even the aforementioned ballad seems overtly intense. But, hey, I'm not complaining. Mercury's Down is solid stuff; I just wish Hitchcock and Martensson would have lightened up a little.
Toby Hitchcock is undoubtedly one of the great melodic rock vocalists on the scene today. Mercury's Down only secures that standing. Strongly recommended.