Crash of Life

Joel Hoekstra's 13

You know, when I was younger one of the most memorable moments in my life […]
July 29, 2023
Joel Hoekstra's 13 - Crash of Life album cover

You know, when I was younger one of the most memorable moments in my life was going to the beach with my girlfriend and friends. A road trip down the mountains in Brazil to the beautiful beaches a few hours away. One, two or even three cars on the road with young couples full of life, and young singles full of hope. That beautiful scenery, that perfect sun and all your best friends going on an adventure. I look at my passenger seat and the girl I like is there, beautiful, charming, seducing. And the holiday weekend promises to be full of surprises. The ideal soundtrack plays in my Roadstar car stereo (the best car stereo at that time) and the music selection is a good, competent and honest hard rock. Music that is heavy enough for you and your girlfriend (that hates Slayer) to enjoy together, and also helps to avoid playing any annoying pop tune from the charts in the car.

In a good hard rock band there will always be a ballad that your girlfriend loves and you pretend that you don't. Some Ratt, Cinderella, Motley and an eventual Bon Jovi (yes I know), may have been mixed with some Deep Purple, Zeppelin, Judas and Whitesnake in the road trip soundtrack. Every song played had something for everybody to sing and enjoy. I greatly miss those days. Before Nirvana, a good part of the hard rock bands became a parody of themselves due to getting too worried about their image and their drugs, and less worried about their music and their money. Nirvana (that ditch the image and kept the drugs) obliterated 90% of these bands from the market and everybody that looked like Poison had to rethink their lives.

However, this period and style of music generated solid bands and a great number of very good songs that became classics. The better bands survived the hard times and are still active today like Scorpions, Def Leppard, and Guns. Many others are coming back like Winger and Extreme. And some new bands were added to the same style of well played hard rock like Winery Dogs ,Dead Daisies and Miles Kennedy. Good hard rock is good hard rock regardless of the package, and with the music access that we have today, these bands and this style of music are going strong and they are being rediscovered everyday by the new generation. I believe Joel Hoekstra's 13 is part of this renascence and they have something to say.

With heavy hitters like Joel Hoekstra, Tony Franklin, Jeff Scott Soto, Vinny Appice, Derek Sherinian and Girish Pradhan you have to expect great music and they do not disappoint. With their 3rd work CRASH OF LIFE, the band presents a well seasoned hard rock that will make you clench your lips and headbang slightly. The 12 songs album starts with "Everybody Knows Everything" with all that you can expect from a hard rock tune. Great melodies, impeccable musicianship and great vocals. Joel Hoskstra shows why he is one of the best rock guitar players around.This tune has unique and creative solos that will also be displayed throughout the album. Solid backing vocals and they even throw a Queen style chorus in the end.

The album flows with the title song "Crash Of Life" with a Whitesnake kind of vibe and a nice melody that you want to sing along. Great backing vocal interlude in the chorus that reminds me of a number of bands that I can't remember the name of. -Now I'm running, now I'm running from this crash of life- warns Girish Pradhan from india. A great vocal performer with a great range. You have to be a good singer to have Jeff Scott Soto credited as backing vocals. Then, we are presented with "Damaged Goods", another very well written tune with a sticky melody, unique guitar solo and the great drumming from Vinnie Appice. Vinnie Appice deserves a few lines. He is the drummer of one of my favorite "live" albums, Sabbath's Live Evil. And he also played for the great DIO and many other bands. He is a master of his craft and one of the drummers together with Tommy Aldrigge, Cozy Powell, Ian pace and others, that helped define an era and also mold the hard hitting style of drumming present in every good hard rock band to this day.

Ok. Lay down in your hammock, call your girlfriend to join you, light a joint, cause here comes the ballad, and it is a very good one. "Torn Into Lies" got all the ingredients. A great introductory guitar solo and that sexy voice mixed with a little suffering. Really good song with an interesting change of tempo in the middle. A sure bet to be the song your girl will ask you to play when you are together, and also, if you are single, the song you should play to that girl you love but she doesn't know about it yet. This tune has a youtube video and you will be able to see what I mean.

Back to good solid rock with "Far Too Deep" that starts with a riff that you probably heard something similar before, but it always works and sounds good so you don't bother. Solid bass lines by Tony Franklin (the king of fretless bass) that has played with the likes of Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and The Firm just to name a few. Together with Vinnie, they are probably one of the most solid pillars in any rock band nowadays, letting the other band members build upon their solid guidance. This tune also has a youtube video you should check. "Not Tonight" reaches half of the album with the traditional -I will never let you go- in  the chorus. A softer but still energetic tune with great backing vocals and the chance for the keyboard to have its saying.  Derek Sherinian ( John Bonamassa, Dream Theater) presents us with a great solo opening for the guitar solo coming next. The chorus reminds me of a Bon Jovi kind of chorus but with a better singer.

We reach the B side (remember that?) with another ballad for the love sufferers out there. "Over You" is one of those songs that can be used in any romantic movie soundtrack. Sexy vocals with sexy backing vocals, some acoustic guitar dexterity mixed with the distortion, and a beautiful melody that wants to make you sing along with your significant other. Everybody likes a romantic rock song, or a romantic song period. Please don't deny. It does not matter how radical of a metalhead you are, deep, deep, maybe very deep in your heart, I am sure that you have a favorite that actually touches you everytime you listen. Even Cronos from Venom appreciates a calmer song. He loves Kate Bush, I heard. The next tune put us back on track again with "I would Cry For Love". The name may suggest another ballad but is actually a very energetic rock tune with keyboards present on the solo and another melody easy to remember.  A good tune, however in my opinion, not at the same level of musical arrangements and vocal performance from the previous ones. Is the band losing steam on the B side?

No they are not, and "Don't Have Words" gets the energy back with great vocal performance and a recycled hard rock riff holding it all. The band uses backing vocals very creatively by not only repeating the words of the chorus, but also creating new chorus lines and words making the song more interesting to enjoy. Good classic rock tune. And the album continues to deliver with the great "Find a Way" with a solid riff dancing with the drums and bass, and a delightful solo between keys and guitar in the best Deep Purple style. The band changes tempos and riffs flawlessly without taking you away from the song's intended vibe. I will also take a small paragraph to praise the very good production on this album. All songs are written and produced by Joel himself and when you have such an experienced musician, with dozens of collaborations in other artists recordings in a variety of music styles, and being a member of great rock bands that defined the style, you have to know a trick or two when it comes to making a good sounding album. Joel knows it all and it is a pleasure to listen to a well produced album. With headphones or speakers, the band sounds great.

We are getting to the end of our journey with a little bit of country rock with dissonant chords that reminds me a little of Led Zeppelin. This is present on "You're Right For Me". Another great tune that has a little bit of everything. A little country, a little rock, a little ballad and a charming vocal. Great song to listen to with your significant other. I also want to talk about the excellent work of singer Girish Pradhan, the new, and great addition to the band directly from India. The guy gives us a masterclass on the style channeling Coverdale, Dio, Gillan, and many others that comes to mind with his unique tone and vocal flexibility. We got to the end of the journey with "Through the Night". This one is a little different from the rest of the album. A little softer on the edges, a little more commercial with a romantic backbone. The beginning reminds me of Parental Guidance from Judas Priest. I would not be surprised if it turns into yet another video clip in the future.

Before I forget. Jeff Scott Soto, I have been a fan of your work since Malmsteen and I believe it is a luxury having you as backing vocals. Overall an excellent hard rock album, with masters of their craft playing memorable tunes that after a few listenings you may catch yourself singing even without the album being played. Please give me a car, a road, a girl and a dream and I will use CRASH OF LIFE as the soundtrack anytime.

8 / 10









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"Crash of Life" Track-listing:

1. Everybody Knows Everything
2. Crash Of Life
3. Damaged Goods
4. Torn Into Lies
5. Far Too Deep
6. Not Tonight
7. Over You
8. I Would Cry For Love
9. Don't Have Words
10. Find A Way
11. You're Right For Me
12. Through The Night

Joel Hoekstra's 13 Lineup:

Joel Hoekstra - Guitars
Girish Pradhan - Lead Vocals
Vinny Appice - Drums
Tony Franklin - Bass
Derek Sherinian - Keyboards
Jeff Scott Soto - Backing Vocals

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