Only a few weeks ago, at my local record store, we were discussing the merits of Canadian rock band, Triumph. We wondering whatever happened to them, and as with many bands from their era, would they ever reunite for one last time. Nearly 20 years have passed since Rik Emmett left the band and there is no rumor of a reunion. However, Mr. Emmett has been very active on his own. Airtime is the highly anticipated collaboration between Rik Emmett (Triumph) and Michael Shotton (Von Groove). 'Liberty Manifesto' represents several years of creative and intense songwriting from these two fine musicians. Emmett, of course, supplies the guitar work and vocals with fine results. Shotton handles the drums and various keyboards, and then jumps behind the console to pursue some skillful production. The result is an extraordinary work of melodic hard rock spiced with some progressive elements.
From the opening moments of 'Edge Of Your Mind,' you know that you are onto something very creative. Emmett's vocals are masterful and mature as is his guitar work. 'Midnight Black & Blue' turns things up a notch with a heavy blues feel. If you were hoping for shades of Triumph circa 2007 (or maybe 20 years earlier), then you may find some noticeable characteristics in the song 'Liberty.' So, far in the first three songs, you have a marvelous mixture of sounds and textures. It only gets better. Both 'Find Your Way' and 'River Runs Deep' are simply catchy melodic rock where Emmett sounds as smooth as seven year old single malt scotch pouring into a glass. Then you have a cut like 'Code 9' which traverses many boundaries sounding like blues in one moment, funk in another, and then again, classic melodic hard rock. This merely displays the genius of Shotten and Emmett. On 'Rise' Mr. Emmett provides us with some of his most enthralling licks. 'Moving Day' may be the finest cut on the album. This is definitive AOR, smooth and satisfying. As we near the end, 'Transmutation' is a fine instrumental proving once again why Emmett is an exceptional guitarist.
Airtime is bound to disappoint many Rik Emmett fans (read: Triumph fans) simply because the were hoping for, well, the glory days of Triumph. But this work stands on its own talents and merits. Shotten and Emmett are to be commended for not holding fast to the past or similar conventions. This is superb and creative music, very good stuff. Now, I'm wondering what the sequel will be like.
- Craig Hartranft
You may not know Mike Shotton (Von Groove), but you will certainly know Rik Emmett, the former lead guitarist for the Canadian trio, Triumph. Shotten and Emmett combine talent and experience to create a unique melodic rock experience. Emmett has lost none of his vocal skills or guitar mastery. This is a fine album worthy of your consideration.