M.A.R.S.

Project: Driver

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After progressive guitar/keyboard virtuoso Tony MacAlpine debuted on Shrapnel Records with his all-instrumental album Edge of Insanity, he teamed up with drummer Tommy Aldridge, singer Robert Rock, and bassist Rudy Sarzo to form a sort of all-star heavy metal band called M.A.R.S. While it masquerades as a Whitesnake-styled group effort, Project: Driver seems like another MacAlpine album with vocals added. Not that the results are all bad -- they're not. But aside from MacAlpine's dizzying neoclassical guitar and keyboard solos, there's not much to recommend this. Unsubtle singer Robert Rock embodies all the big-hair clich├ęs of '80s heavy metal; cheesy songs like "Slave to My Touch," "Stand Up and Fight," and "Fantasy" are cringe-inducing. Still, there are some interesting ideas here, which can mostly be credited to MacAlpine. MacAlpine's fans will love those solos. But casual listeners won't be amused. Tony MacAlpine went back to doing what he does best -- instrumental music -- on his exceptional Maximum Security album in 1987.

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