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BURRN (BLIND IN PARADISE)
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"OPEN UP AND SAY"....(ETERNAL FAITH)
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AOR HEAVEN WEB REVIEW (BLIND IN PARADISE)
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Review by Tim Wadzinski, editor of the e-zine Detritus. Issue (#160)
TAKARA - PERCEPTION OF REALITY (B/B+) Lion Music, 2001
9 tracks, RT: 38:53
http://www.takararocks.com/
http://www.lionmusic.com
info@lionmusic.com

Man, I haven't heard an album like this in a while. Make no mistake, I'm not saying PERCEPTION OF REALITY is unique or earth-shattering, but when's the last time you sat down and heard a full-on "the '90s never happened" AOR/melodic rock album?

Guitarist Neal Grusky and bassist Carl Demarco have returned with a revamped lineup -- vocalist Jeff Scott Soto and others are gone, and vocalist Michael James (Flatters), keyboardist Brook Hansen, and drummer Chad Clark are in -- and (thankfully) they're still up to their old tricks. I only have the first couple albums with Mr. Soto, ETERNAL FAITH and TASTE OF HEAVEN, and this newbie stacks up nicely with them. (I never heard the third one, BLIND IN PARADISE.) James' voice kinda reminds me of John Sykes in places, but that's a tenuous link at best. Opener "Miles Away," "Shadows In The Night," and "Tell Me" are good, catchy, hard-driving AOR rockers. "Simple Man" mixes in some pompy airs before "Without You" takes you back to Metal Balladry 101 class. A little later, "L.I.E.S." is a sorta angry "you done me wrong" song, and it's always fun to hear this type of track and a soft ballad nearly back-to-back. (I guess the relationship didn't pan out... :)) "Ready To Promise" has a riff that somehow manages to cross vintage Van Halen with total '80s commercial metal, whereas "Dream Of It All" and "Believe" are both unashamedly Poisonous glammy fun.

Rightly or wrongly, Takara have always seemed to suffer from the perception that they were another in the long line of Jeff Scott Soto projects, which probably isn't fair, but perceptions often are not fair.

2001 sees Takara armed with a new deal, at Lion Music, who must have considerable faith to finance Derek Riggs artwork, and blessed with a new singer, Michael James Flatters, who made such an abiding impression on Byrd's 'Flying beyond the 9' album, though here he is not quite as theatrical, coming across as a meeting of Richie Sambora of Johnny Gioeli, especially on what should be single, with it's naggingly familiar melody line, 'Tomorrow'. Opener 'Miles Away' rocks in true 'Spotlight' fashion with guitarist, the talented Neal Grusky balancing the genies of shred and melody nicely; whilst 'Shadows in the Night' opens with some Broadway vocal drama before delivering a light & shade rocker dancing along the spine of some nicely observed keyboard figures from the consistently good Brook Hansen, whose interplay with Grusky here is worth the price of admisssion alone. The gem in the pack is the Spectorish wall of sound of 'Ready to Promise' with it Roy Wood style vocal line, which Flatters delivers with utter command and ease; a built for radio in any era chorus' a power pop middle eight which gives way to a guitar solo you can sing along ; in fact the pop element rears up again, garnishing the crunch of 'Dream it all'.

'Perception of Reality' sees the long held promise fulfilled, Takara come across as their own band now, less a baby Talisman, more a technically melodic outfit in the Joshua mould, and one ventures to suggest broader sunlit uplands of greater success beckon.

8/10 Andrew Paul

Takara as you all know comes from USA and on their three studios album the vocals were handle by superstar Jeff Scott Soto.

Now with Soto gone one would have thought it would be impossible to follow in the footsteps of such a respected and well known singer, but the reality is Takara started to sound stale with Soto, so out he went and in comes new singer Michael Flatters (last heard on the recent James Byrd album) and thanks to his deep range the bands early AOR and melodic rock music is now overshadowed by a more darker technical progressive style which not many US bands are doing at the moment. But fear not, the bands melodic rock edge is still evident throughout "Perception Of Reality" making Takara surely one of the bands that will meet large success in the forthcoming years as their style progresses.

I guess the imagery conjured up of this new album is more of a LIVE band feel as opposed to the previous albums which were often too polished, thus the new sound is more convincing and shows progression instead of repeating the same old cliched lyrics, this time Takara just play hard rock at it's best. In fact, Takara still remain a cult U.S. band, JSS certainly gave the band the attention they deserved.

It's impossible to ignore these kind of rocking songs, all of which are an excellent play. Witness the bands own unique style which has evolved with considerable substance. Songs like 'Shadows Of The Night' and 'Believe' are surely two of the best songs Takara have composed and are reasons enough for buying "Perception Of Reality".

Their musicianship is totally impressive and the band have an over the average technical level and super pinache for songwriting. One of the best points in this band is Michael, he over powers Soto's range and will become a very much sought after singer in the years to come. Michael has got his own voice and he knows how to use it to its best. He succeeds in finding the best vocal lines that suit the songs. His voice can fly really high like on the, addictive, radio friendly 'Tell Me' or sweet and subtle like on the superb power ballad 'Without You'.

The guitar virtuosity is amazing and guitarist Neal Grusky plays his instrument with the technical articulation, fluidity, and feel of many of today's hot shots. The rhythm section bring in lots of arrangements without loosing any of Takara's trademark dynamic melodic melodies.

Takara's new album proves the point the band is here to stay and reaches the boundaries of progressive and hard rock/metal with the lavished melodic qualities of A.O.R. "much like their previous albums"... but fresher!

The new album already shows a huge potential and leap forward for the band formed by Neal Grusky, it's maturity immediately hits you in the face from the opening track 'Miles Away' through to the last track 'Tell Me'. "Perception Of Reality" is an audacious masterpiece, each song is played with depth, elegance and subtly that will set the band's standard for the future. Takara have cunningly avoided a fate of atrophy and the resultant marriage is evidenced by the constant quality. Share this vision now, "P.O.R" is a paragon of melodic excellence which I can guarantee you'll love.

www.takararocks.com

TAKARAOLOGY
Eternal Faith
Taste Of Heaven
Blind In Paradise
Eternity The Best '93 - '98
Nicky Baldrian

TAKARA - PERCEPTION OF REALITY
LION MUSIC

Takara was founded in 1987 and this CD is their fourth album (not counting the "Eternity - Best Of" release).On the three previous CDs they had super vocalist Jeff Scott Soto behind the microphone. Jeff left and in came Michael Flatters. It must not be easy to replace a singer like Soto but Michael does an excellent job.

On "Perception Of Reality" are nine new songs which boost again the typical Takara sound. Although everything seems to sound a little bit heavier this time around. The A.O.R. sound borders now more towards hard rock / metal. The songs are very catchy and loaded with hooks and great melodies.

Guitarist Neal Grusky plays technically perfect and his solos and rhythm guitar are giving the music a strong drive. The album starts heavy with "Miles Away" and has only with the excellent ballad "Without You" a resting point. All of the other seven songs are high energy rock tunes.

"Perception Of Reality" is I think the strongest release of this American AOR / hard rock band. (8)

Bruno Van De Welde SPINCITY

TAKARA: "Perception Of Reality" 7
LionMusic 2001
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom 01-11-28

Who´s perception of reality are we talking about here? Well, I guess it´s down to the eye (ear) of the beholder to see (hear) what´s real and what´s not. The new CD by the American band Takara could be the real deal for some, while others may have another opinion.

Before you ask: the answer is NO! Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteen, Talisman, Eyes etc.) is no longer the singer in the band. There´s no need to worry though, as Michael Flatters steps right into his shoes. Flatters sang on another CD released by LionMusic earlier this year, namely (James) Byrd.

The typical "Takara" sound can still be found on this disc though. Nicely played hardrock with sing-a-long choruses and fluffy keyboards in the background. The main force behind the overall sound is guitarist and band leader Neal Grusky. I believe he´s the only "original" member left. Grusky´s guitarwork/songwriting makes me think of bands such as 'Stryper' or 'Mass' from time to time. Especially the latter, as all the songs are very uplifting somehow, still not in a religious way.... Or? Well, "Shadows In The Night" even have those "typical" Mass (or Stryper) sounding harmony vocals. I say, the whole CD is actually full of lovely background vocals. "Ready To Promise" will have Stryper fans singing hallelujah of joy, as this is as close as you can get without cloning.

The main problem is that with only nine tracks and some 38-39 minutes of play, "Perception Of Reality" is way too short for today´s CD standard.

Still, songs like opener "Miles Away" and the wonderful ballad "Without You" (ballad of the year?) may be reasons enough to buy? Bottomline: Old fans will not be disappointed, but I´m not sure if it´s enough to attract any new ones. Nice, but not ground breaking, would be the final verdict.

TAKARA
Perception Of Reality
Lion Music LMC 2112 2

Although a fine talent in their own right, Takara have always been perceived by some as the younger brother to Swedish melodic rock gods Talisman. It probably hasn't helped their cause that much in-so-far as their three studio albums to date have all featured the inimitable vocal talents of Talisman frontman Jeff Scot Soto, but to casually dismiss them as mere imitators is to do the band quite a disservice.

It's now been three years since the release of the last Takara album 'Blind In Paradise' (not my favorite I'll readily admit), three years which have seen quite a change in their ranks, not least of which was the ending of their relationship with Soto, long time producer as well as ever present vocalist.

Of the original Takara, only guitarist and main song writer Neal Grusky remains from their 'Eternal Faith' debut back in late 93/early 94 (depends which copy you have), although bassist Carl Demarco has been around since the days of sophomore effort 'Taste Of Heaven'. Those two aside however, the remaining three fifths of Takara are all new blood, and no disrespect to either Brook Hansen (keyboards) or Chad Clark (drums), but I'm guessing that the bulk of the attention (initially at least) will be focussed on Soto's replacement Michael Flatters with all the inevitable comparisons that entails.

For all those of you who didn't catch his performance on James Byrd's excellent 'Flying Beyond The 9' opus recently, all I'll say on that matter is that stylistically at least, Flatters is quite distinct from Soto. Whilst that may come as a bit of a disappointment to the legion of JSS fans out there, it's actually a great opportunity for Takara to finally step out from the shadow of their former mentor, forever laying to rest the Talisman comparisons which have pursued them pretty much throughout their recording career. And obviously relishing that opportunity, with 'Perception Of Reality' Takara have produced an album that is in many respects quite different from anything else they've so far delivered.

The bouncy, infectious pomp and circumstance of opener 'Miles Away' is probably the closest in spirit to the Takara of old, but as soon as Flatters soulful, brooding vocals kick in it's readily apparent that changes are definitely afoot. Follow up 'Shadows In The Night' starts off by throwing a curve ball in the shape of some decidedly Broadwayesque vocal harmonies before settling down into a nice mid paced groove which reminded me at times of the much missed Red Dawn. Then, as the album unfolds, Takara become ever more adventurous as they strive to push back their musical boundaries further than ever before. Flurries of baroque harpsichord styled keys punctuate the Rainbowesque 'Tomorrow' (a track which also benefits enormously from its continually changing tempo); 'Ready To Promise' has an introductory riff which reminded me very much of Vandenberg's 'Friday Night' although the song itself seems to be a throwback to the 70's (I detected touches of Slade, The Sweet, Wizard and Styx), whilst the galloping 'L.I.E.S.' came over as an updated Balance (now there's a blast from the past). Finally, lest I forget, the intriguing cover artwork was provided by no less a personage than former Maiden/Gamma Ray designer Derek Riggs.

Filled with highly infectious, uplifting songs, 'Perception Of Reality' proves that their three years away haven't been wasted on Takara - nice one guys.
8/10 Dave Crocket Hard Roxx

TAKARA, Perception Of Reality (Lion Music) Rating: 8

Takara was founded in 1987 and this CD is their fourth album (not counting the "Eternity Best of" release). On the three previous CD's they had super vocalist Jeff Scott Soto behind the microphone. Jeff left and in came Michael James Flatters.

It must not be easy to replace a singer like Soto but Michael does an excellent job. On "Perception Of Reality" there are nine new songs which boost again the typical Takara sound. Although everything seems to sound a little bit heavier this time around. The A.O.R. sound borders now more towards hard rock / metal.

The songs are very catchy and loaded with hooks and great melodies. Guitarist Neal Grusky plays technically perfect and his solo's and rhythm guitar are giving the music a strong drive. The album starts heavy with "Miles Away" and has only, with the excellent ballad "Without You", a resting point-- all the other seven songs are high energy rock tunes.

"Perception Of Reality" is I think the strongest release of this American AOR / hard rock band.

INTERVIEW BY LION MUSIC
TAKARA - PERCEPTION OF REALITY

Takara as you all know comes from the USA and on their three studios albums the vocals were handled by superstar Jeff Scott Soto.

Now with Soto gone..."one would have thought it would be impossible to follow in the footsteps of such a respected and well known singer", but the reality is... Takara started to sound stale with Soto, so out he went... and in comes new singer Michael Flatters (last heard on the recent James Byrd album) and thanks to his deep range the bands early AOR and melodic rock music is now overshadowed by a more darker technical progressive style which not many US bands are doing at the moment. But fear not, the bands melodic rock edge is still evident throughout "Perception Of Reality"... making Takara surely one of the bands that will meet large success in the forthcoming years as their style progresses.

I guess the imagery conjured up of this new album is more of a LIVE band feel as opposed to the previous albums which were often too polished, thus the new sound is more convincing and shows progression instead of repeating the same old cliche lyrics, this time Takara just play hard rock at it's best. In fact, Takara still remain a cult U.S. band! JSS certainly gave the band the attention they deserved.

It's impossible to ignore these kinds of rocking songs, all of which are an excellent play. Witness the bands own unique style which has evolved with considerable substance. Songs like 'Shadows Of The Night' and 'Believe' are surely two of the best songs Takara have composed and are reasons enough for buying "Perception Of Reality".

Their musicianship is totally impressive and the band have an over the average technical level and super pinache for song writing. One of the best points in this band is Michael, he overpowers Soto's range and will become a very much sought after singer in the years to come. Michael has got his own voice and he knows how to use it to its best. Michael succeeds in finding the best vocal line to suit the songs. Michael's voice can fly really high.. like on the addictive radio friendly 'Tell Me', or sweet and subtle, like on the superb power ballad 'Without You'.

The guitar virtuosity is amazing and guitarist Neal Grusky plays his instrument with the technical articulation, fluidity and feel of many of today's hot shots. The rhythm section brings in lots of arrangements without losing any of Takara's trademark dynamic melodic melodies.

Takara's new album proves the point... "the band are here to stay" and reaches the boundaries of progressive and hard rock/metal with the lavished melodic qualities of A.O.R. "much like their previous albums but fresher".

The new album already shows a huge potential and leap forward for the band formed by Neal Grusky. The maturity immediately hits you in the face from the opening track 'Miles Away' through to the last track 'Tell Me'. "Perception Of Reality" is an audacious masterpiece, each song is played with depth, elegance and subtly that will set the bands standard for the future. Takara have cunningly avoided a fate of atrophy and the resultant marriage is evidenced by the constant quality. Share this vision now, "P.O.R" is a paragon of melodic excellence which I can guarantee you'll love.

TAKARA - PERCEPTION OF REALITY (2001, LION MUSIC)

Michael Flatters - vocals; Neal Grusky - guitars; Carl Demarco - bass; Brook Hansen - keyboards; Chad Clark - drums

Since Takara's last release 'Blind In Paradise' there has been a drastic change in personnel, in particular the departure of Jeff Scott Soto.

Not only did Takara's leader Neal Grusky have the daunting prospect of finding a new vocalist, he also had to search for a new keyboardist and drummer as they also buggered off. Stepping up to the plate came Brook Hansen (keyboards),Chad Clark (drums) and Michael Flatters (vocals.

With the line up complete, Takara spent a year in the studio recording their latest offering 'Perception Of Reality'. Before we get into the tracks themselves, I'm sure there are those readers who are concerned about the performance of the new vocalist. Will he sound as good as Jeff? Will he have a similar style? Any concerns can be allayed as Michael has put in a fine performance. I don't think Takara has lost anything at all in the vocal stakes.

Neal Grusky has such a distinctive guitar tone, I wouldn't expect Takara to sound like anyone other than Takara. Having said that, you do get the impression that there has been a step up in the class stakes. Opener 'Miles Away' signals immediately that Takara haven't deviated from their acclaimed brand of melodic rock and it also serves notice that Michael Flatter's is a quality vocalist. 'Shadows In The Night' further increases ones impression of Mr. Flatter's and the feeling that the Grusky/Flatters relationship has been very fruitful. The next three tracks show a different side to Takara with the slightly proggy 'Tomorrow', the wonderful ballad 'Without You' and the high energy, hard edged pop rock of 'Ready To Promise'. With those slight deviations in approach we are back to a more familiar Takara on 'L.I.E.S', 'Dream Of It All', 'Believe' and 'Tell Me', all very good rockers with Takara's typical smooth choruses.

Credit has to go to Neal Grusky for persevering after some big upheavals within the band. The addition of Michael Flatters is most welcome and so is the energy that the new members have brought to 'Perception Of Reality'. On a slightly sour note, I have to draw attention to the fact that this album is only 39 minutes in duration, which really isn't good enough. I'm sure they could have come up with another couple of songs (only nine to be had). However, the quality of the material and the bands performance does help to make up for it. - Luigi Cisaria

Rating: 8.5
Pros: Michael Flatters vocal performance; a feeling of freshness and energy in the songs.
Cons: Only 39 minutes long!!!!

BURRN! Vol.7
Blind in Paradise
(Translated from Japanese)

This album has as high-quality of contents as ever, and it goes without saying that the sentimental melodies are fill of beauty. Furthermore the power and the speed which lead a HR style is blended in a good balance. The ballad tune track 4th as well is melting in this album and is not obstructing this album's flowing and its tension. In general this album has much in common with an orthodox function, therefore I look forward to seeing their live show in the near future.

(89/100)
(Yasuhitoi Kitai)

This is what AOR Heaven had to say in Hard Roxx magazine, Issue#33, July 1998:

"Cracking new release from this US band featuring Jeff Scott Soto on vocals. This is without a doubt their finest moment, first class melodic rock with great hooklines and fantastic songwriting - simply one of the best releases in 98!"

AOR Basement Review:
http://www.ifb.co.uk/~aor

TAKARA- "Blind in Paradise" (Zero Corporation XRCN-2029, 1998)

Californians Takara have been around for a while and "Blind in Paradise" is already their third release. I won't bore you with the stories about how Jeff Scott Soto took Takara under his wing, but he's back singing on this release and in a production/mixing capacity too.

Music then: "Take U Down" has me writing down just one word - "wow"! Great keyboards to open, then it rocks down harder: melodic hard rock with insistent guitars and heaped-up keyboards. "Your love 2 Night" continues the feel of hard LA AOR at its finest, sort of like the classiness of Legs Diamond with modern attitude and bravado. Suddenly you find yourself already at track three - "Fly 2 your Arms"- which is a slow burner and could easily be classed as a fire hazard and hosed down by a passing fire engine every hour.

The production is more impassioned rather than precise, and new member Eric Ragno's keyboards really lift the whole band sound. And, it is real band integrated sound, rather than guitars and keyboards fighting to support each other..., no where is this more evident than on the title track which is essentially standard hard rock that's twisted into something much more interesting by some almost progressive sounding keyboards. Jeff Scott Soto's performance is excellent too. Strangely, he's always struck me as a bit of a squandered talent. Sure he's got a great voice, but he seems to have flitted about from band to band too much, and never hung around in one place long enough to be associated with a landmark album that matches his notoriety.

Many of the tracks have the same warm feel that you get from an all time favourite album. Takara also seem to have a universal quality to their sound on tracks like "Time Waits 4 No One" and "What do U Want from Me" as they seem able to combine both European and US styles with gritty, restrained power, melody and adrenaline displayed in equal proportions. Additionally on this Japanese version, you get a cover (don't the Japanese just love cover versions !?!) of Van Halen's "Dance the Night Away". The cover works really well and effectively gives away one of the starting points to the Takara sound - it's the guitar sass and attitude of Van Halen spiced up with keyboards and held on a more clear, stun-gun direction, without the meanderings of Van Halen's whim and fancy.

If you're looking for hook-laden melodic rockers with clever structures, then this is absolutely the place for you. Takara could be the standard-bearers of modern heavy AOR!

The Following reviews can be found in "Open Up and Say" .....Issue 15

TAKARA "Eternal Faith" 1993 SaRaya Rec. (38:65) A (1) Spotlight (2) Two Hearts Together (3) Don't Walk Away (4) Just Like Yesterday (5) Restless Heart (6) First Attraction (7) I Don't Believe (8) Fallen Angel (9) Colors Fade (10) Passions Of The Heart

I could simply mention that Jeff Scott Soto is behind the microphone and leave you with that, but that would be truly unfair to the other three incredibly talented musicians holding their ground behind Soto's legendary vocals. Neal Grusky plays some powerful AOR/hardrock guitar, backed by the very solid time-keeping of drummer Robert Duda & bassist Gary Schutt. The first 5 tracks of this CD are all-out A+ material, combining undeniable sing-along melody with precise yet colourful musicianship. "Restless Heart" & the piano(synth)-led "Colors Fade" are just poetry in the form of music with some of Soto's best singing. "I Don't Believe" & "Don't Walk Away" are two of the best tracks to come across my CD player in awhile. Much in the vain of Talisman or a toned-down Yngwie Malmsteen, Takara are perfect for any hardrock/AOR fan.

"Open Up and Say"
TAKARA "Taste Of Heaven"
1995 SaRaya Rec. (49:18)
(1) When Darkness Falls (2) Days Of Dawn (3) Your Love (4) December (5) Last Mistake (6) Taste Of Heaven (7) Sacred Pleasure (8) 2 Late (9) Save Me (10) Lonely Shade Of Blue (11) Again Your Love Is Mine (12) Restless Heart

Becoming a little bit more technical in the music, Takara continue to impress with their never ending talent; note, Carl DeMarco fulfills the bass duties. Grusky's guitar wizardry seems much tighter & even more impressive on this sophomore effort; noticeable immediately with the first track. In fact the Talisman sound of "Eternal Faith" seems to have been traded for a more Yngwie style, yet without the unneeded flashiness. The lyrics are much more developed also. With the power-ballads "Last Mistake" & "Lonely Shade Of Blue", and the incredible "December", one can't help but listen to this CD over-&-over again. "Sacred Pleasure" becomes their best rocker to date. As an added bonus, "Again Your Love Is Mine" & "Restless Heart" (-originally on Eternal Faith) are acoustic tracks showcasing yet again the talent here. Any Jeff Scott Soto fan already has their eyes'n'ears set on this band by now, but if you're an Yngwie (-Euro hardrock/AOR) style hardrock fan, definitely give these guys a spin in the CD changer.

OPEN UP AND SAY...
Discussions About Music That Matters
Issue Fifteen: October 13, 1996
http://www.openupandsay.com/

AOR HEAVEN REVIEW:
http://www.aor.southcom.com.au/reviewseurope.html#blindinparadise

TAKARA / BLIND IN PARADISE

Takara is one of Jeff Scott Soto's creative outlets, along with the half a dozen other projects that he is involved in. When an artist spreads themselves so thin I have to believe that the material has to suffer a little. After all, no-one writes that many classic tracks in a certain time frame. So while this release could possibly be Jeff Scott Soto by numbers, or merely continuing to do what he knows, it is actually still pretty good. A guy with Jeff's talent and sensational voice is capable of much better, but even when it is just average it still beats out 80% of the competition. Blind In Paradise thankfully sees Takara rocking out a bit more. The album is quite guitar heavy and sees plenty of solo's. Jeff sounds great and sings the material here well. There are some keyboard parts to add melody and plenty of backing vocals and harmonies.

Long time fans may think the material isn't as strong as previous work, but by the time you reach the end of the album, there is no doubt in my mind you will be happy with what you got. Most of the album rocks hard with only Love Is Gone, Don't Wanna Be Alone and Say U'll Stay heading into softer territory. Good ballads too. Highlights of the rockers include No Love's Enough, What Do U Want From Me, Your Love 2Night and Time Waits 4 No One. A good solid hard rock record that doesn't reach the height's of their previous efforts, but if I had a choice of this or no new JSS record, I would take this anyday. Fans go directly to AOR Heaven to find your copy.

Hard Roxx issue#34; August 1998
Tom Coyne

After taking a break from the hardrock scene, and disco-ing his buns off with side project Boogie knights, Jeff Scott Soto, known to us, his undaunting fans, as JSS, has made his triumphant return for his third album with California based Takara.

The album starts off with "Take U Down" and "Your Love 2 Nite" which are real good quality songs..."Your Love 2Nite" does feature a massive fretboard workout by Takara mainman Neal Grusky. Things get into the big leagues with track number three, "Fly 2 Your Arms" which slays my backside in a major way. "Love is Gone" is a marvelous ballad that sees Jeffrey in top vocal form and despite the lack of production this is outrageously good stuff. Other tracks that I find myself searching out on the old car CD player are "What do U Want", "Blind in Paradise" and the mesmerizing balladry of "Don't Wanna Be Alone".

The Jap release is almost a must, featuring two bonus cuts, one being the Van Halen classic "Dance the Night Away." My only gripe is that this would have been an unreal record with one of those big fat production jobs that certain bands are able to achieve, but quality is quality, and these guys have truck loads of it.

9/10

OUAS Issue #Sixty-eight; March 1999
REVIEWS FROM the EDITOR'S DESK
by Wes Royer, Editor-in-Chief

This is a band that shouldn't need any introduction by this point. Takara took the AOR world by storm with their last two releases, "Eternal Faith" and "Taste Of Heaven." Sure, how can a band not gain instant attention with the legendary Jeff Scott Soto at the microphone and taking part in most of the songwriting? But that isn't the extent of Takara's draw. Neal Grusky commands the guitar; the now departed Bob Duda doesn't nothing short of impressing on drums; and the combined might of Eric Ragno's keys and Carl DeMarco's bass ensure a solid rhythm.

Takara's first album was pure hardrockin' AOR, and the second was more structured and powerful with tighter songwriting. But "Blind In Paradise" combines the best of both approaches and results in a highly melodic, edgier release. Everything you've come to expect from Takara, or even other Soto projects, is here: the rockers ("What Do You Want From Me," "Time Waits 4 No One"), the ballads ("Love Is Gone," "Don't Wanna Be Alone"), and the anthems ("Take U Down," "Your Love 2night"). And depending on which version of the CD you get your hands on, you'll either get the Eric Ragno instrumental, "Awake And Dreaming"; or on the other version, the cover of Van Halen's "Dance The Night Away" and Soto's a capella version of "Always Be Mine."

There shouldn't be much more I need to say about this band. The name should be as familiar as Ten or Talisman, and the music should be unmistakably Takara. Some critics may find Takara's sound a little outdated, but for fans of standard hardrock and that classic AOR formula, not much else compares.

4/5

QUINTESSENCE20002/25/2002
Connecting the Perception of Musical Reality
Formed: 1987
Discography:
  • "Eternal Faith" (1990/1993)
  • "Taste Of Heaven" (1995)
  • "Blind In Paradise" (1998)
  • "Perception Of Reality" (2001)
Featured Band: March 2002

There seems to be quite an abundance of bands nowadays reviving the glory days of 80's Metal and Hard Rock but many of them are very young on the scene and very few have stuck it out for more than 10 years. We have had many "reunions" and reformations the past 4 years with the likes of Dokken, Twisted Sister, Poison, Ratt and several more which unfortunately have lowered their standards and are playing at the smallest venues you can imagine which would never happen if they'd stayed together.

Takara defies the clash of "Generation Y" and are embarking on their 15th anniversary as a band and continue to carry the torch of true Rock despite a revamping of the band in 1998 when 3 members left including well-known vocalist Jeff Scott Soto,known for his role in Yngwie Mamsteen's Rising Force on their release, "Marching Out", which brought us classic songs like "I'll See The Light Tonight","Disciples Of Hell" and "On The Run Again"; a truly stellar and masterful release for the ages in guitar-oriented Rock and Metal.

Takara's newest offering, "Perception Of Reality" shows off a new side of the band with more edgier songs and vocalist Michael James Flatters. The predecessors are good in their own right with your usual "rockers" and ballads but more on the commercial side of a close "Rising Force" since the lead and rhythms trade-off in the same tasteful manner without all the "Neo-Classical" style. Today's version of Takara is reminiscent to that of a Giuffria meets Rainbow with layered keys and synths but with more dynamics and skillful songwriting; somewhat methodical but commercial enough for radio but ballsy enough to satisfy any guitar enthusiast or Rock listener. The band already has quite the following in Europe and Japan and once they get a whiff of "Perception..", I'm sure they'll agree it out-performs all their previous material. The band thrives on longevity and provide consistency with every release and somehow find a way, despite vast odds, to deliver emphatically and never submit to trends. This is Rock...this is Metal...this is Takara.

www.takararocks.com
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©2002 Wretched Productions/Quintessence Metal Webzine

TAKARA - Blind in Paradise (Jap. XRCN2029)

After taking a break from the hardrock scene, and disco-ing his buns off with side project Boogie Knights, Jeff Scott Soto, known to us his undaunting fans as JSS, has made his triumphant return for his third album with California based Takara. The album starts off with "Take U Down" and "Your Love 2 Nite" which are real good quality songs, but nothing really earthshaking.

The first thing I notice is that the album appears noticeably underproduced, with almost a demo sound to it at times. Strange, because these guys are big news in The Land of the Rising Sun and I would imagine with JSS at the helm there are more than a few bucks in these guy's camp to get a proper production job. "Your Love 2Nite" does feature some a massive fretboard workout by Takara mainman Neil Grusky. Things get into the big leagues with track number three, "Fly 2 Your Arms" which slays my backside in a major way. "Love is Gone" is a marvellous ballad that sees Jeffrey in top vocal form and despite the lack of production this is outrageously good stuff. Other tracks that I find myself searching out on the old car cd player are "What Do U Want," "Blind in Paradise" and the mesmerizing balladry of "Don't Wanna Be Alone." The Jap release is almost a must, featuring two bonus cuts, one being the Van Halen classic "Dance The Night Away."

My only gripe is that this would have been an unreal record with one of those big fat production jobs that certain bands are able to achieve, but quality is quality, and these guys have truck loads of it.

Tom Coyne

Perception Of Reality (review by Loud mail order)

Takara have consistently produced quality albums from the debut to this, their latest release, featuring the talented Michael Flatters on vocals, and the guitarist and founder member Neal Grusky. It is a fantastic release of the highest calibre. As soon as the opener "Miles Away" soars out of the speakers, you know this is something special. The production is as smooth as butter, and the sound is prime time Pretty Maids/Gotthard with a smattering of Street Talk thrown in for good measure. The balance between the guitar genius that is Mr. Grusky is held in check by the lucious, layered keyboards of Brook Hansen, and the harmonious backing vocal arrangements. With such a strong opener, I wondered if the quality would be consistent, and I'm happy to report that it is. Just check the follow-up "Shadows In The Night". Michael Flatters is one hell of a vocalist and suits the band's sound to perfection. The solid ryhthm section of Chad Clark (drums) and Carl DeMarco (bass) are the lynch pins and provide a solid platform for the talents of the other three. "Tomorrow", with its Royal Hunt/Rhapsody harpsichord keyboard intro, gives us a spacious power ballad with its infectious chorus. "Without You " follows, and is another ballad, and Mr. Flatters gives a sterling vocal performance over the dreamy keyboards and soaring guitar work. (Just reach for that lighter, man). "Ready To Promise" opens with a simple drum and dirty guitar riff, and is probably my favourite track, as its vocals and melody are just brilliant. The rest of the album follows suit with four more quality tracks, but I'll let you discover those yourself. Highly recommended.

TAKARA
Perception Of Reality
(Lion Music/Rising Sun) 38,54 min

Lion Music überrascht mit neuem Material von TAKARA, doch für alteingesessene Fans der Jeff Scott Soto Ära sei vorweg gesagt, dass sich einiges geändert hat. Die Band wartet mit fast komplett neuer Besetzung auf, als da wäre: Michael Flatters (Vocals), Neal Grusky (Guitars), Carl Demarco (Bass), Brook Hansen (Keyboards) und Chad Clark an den Drums. Das Ergebnis kann sich indes durchaus sehen bzw. hören lassen, denn Perception Of Reality ist ein relativ gutes Album geworden, das den Veröffentlichungen vieler vergleichbarer Gruppen um einiges voraus ist. Sicherlich gehören auch TAKARA zu den typischen Vertretern des US-Hardrocks, aber zum Glück driften die Jungs nur sehr selten in zu seichte Posergefilde ab, sondern haben Ausdruck und eine melodische Harmonieführung, die nicht auf die 08/15 Tour gestrickt ist. Die Songs gehen gleich ins Ohr, sind sehr leicht zugänglich, aber nie plump, banal oder groovig, so wie dies bei vielen anderen Genrekollegen der Fall ist. Aus diesem Grund kann man die Scheibe den Melodic-Rock Freunden auch weiterempfehlen, auch wenn sich vereinzelte schwächere Nummern wie z.B. Ready To Promise eingeschlichen haben, die dann doch ein wenig zu kommerziell daherrocken.

9
Jester's News

Takara are a colorful AOR band who are extremely tight and together. Their vocalist, Michael James Flatters, at times is a dead ringer for the Freddie Mercury in his mid 70's heyday especially in the tracks 'Ready to Promise' and the rocking 'Dream it all'.

The CD kicks off with a crackin' pacey number about the loss of a girl who is 'Miles Away' and is followed up by classy numbers like 'Without You' that has an acoustic riff which is reminiscent Paul McCartney's 'Young Boy' from his 'Flaming Pie' album - before the song explodes into a gorgeous AOR ballad epic with a big song-title chorus and endearing guitar solo, (thanks to the talents of Neal Grusky).

To sum it up nicely, Takara are a strong unity that have the ballsy flare of Foreigner, the musical beauty of Boston and the joyous variety of Journey.

Find out more about this exceptional group via our links page which'll take you straight to their web-site www.takararocks.com

An easy 10/10.
By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS

TAKARA – PERCEPTION OF REALITY

Ich dachte, diese Band gibt’s gar nicht mehr. Aber der Ausstieg von Sänger Jeff Scott Soto war für Mastermind/Produzent/Gitarrist Neal Grusky wohl kein Grund, das Handtuch zu schmeissen. Er verpflichtete kurzerhand einen gewissen Michael James Flatters (der u.a. für James Byrd sang/singt) für den Gesang und hat damit einen wirklich guten Fang gemacht, auch wenn er noch nicht ganz an die Klasse eines Herrn Soto heranreicht. Das vierte Album (mußte mit Erschrecken feststellen, daß ich den Vorgänger „Blind in Paradise“ gar nicht kenne) enthält neun Songs, deren Gesamtspielzeit von dürftigen 38:54 Min. den Begriff Longplayer eigentlich nicht verdient und die Band gewaltig unter Druck setzt, denn bei den heutigen CD-Preisen darf man sich bei so einer kurzen Spieldauer keine großartigen Ausfälle leisten. Musikalisch hat sich nicht wirklich viel ge- oder verändert, denn die Band kann auch weiterhin dem Genre „Melodic Rock“ zugeordnet werden. War aber auch nicht anders zu erwarten, oder? Warum aber das Instrument von Keyboarder Brook Hansen (ebenso ein Neuzugang wie Herr Flatters und Drummer Chad Clark) so weit in den Vordergrund gemischt wurde, entzieht sich nicht nur meiner Kenntnis, sondern trübt den eigentlich guten Eindruck auch ganz gewaltig. Nicht, daß ich was gegen Keyboards habe, das absolut nicht, aber wenn sie dominanter als die Gitarren sind, die eigentlich guten Stücke total verwässern (wie bei „Tell me“, “Ready to Promise”, “Dream of it all” oder “Believe“) und sie nicht viel härter als Wolle Petry klingen lassen - dann ist das für mich die „Hölle, Hölle, Hölle“. Von diesen Stücken bin ich wirklich enttäuscht, und das, wo ich weiß, daß Takara nie ein Garant für brettharten Neo-Thrash waren. Daß die Band doch melodisch ROCKEN kann, beweist sie mit „Miles Away“, „L.I.E.S.“, „Shadows in the Night“ und „Tomorrow“, während die schwülstigen Ballade “Without you” leider wieder ein voller Griff ins Klo geworden ist. So kann ich leider nicht anders, als von einer mittelschweren Enttäuschung zu sprechen. Ich freue mich schon jetzt auf den Remix des Albums in hoffentlich absehbarer Zeit, wo die Gitarren dann deutlich(er) im Vordergrund stehen. Dafür schon jetzt „Danke schön“. (OL) {\rtf1\ansi\deff0{\fonttbl{\f0\fmodern Arial;}{\f1\fmodern\fcharset0 Arial;}} \viewkind4\uc1\pard\lang1033\f0\fs20 TAKARA \f1\endash PERCEPTION OF REALITY\par \par Ich dachte, diese Band gibt\rquote s gar nicht mehr. Aber der Ausstieg von S\'e4nger \par Jeff Scott Soto war f\'fcr Mastermind/Produzent/Gitarrist Neal Grusky wohl kein \par Grund, das Handtuch zu schmeissen. Er verpflichtete kurzerhand einen gewissen \par Michael James Flatters (der u.a. f\'fcr James Byrd sang/singt) f\'fcr den Gesang \par und hat damit einen wirklich guten Fang gemacht, auch wenn er noch nicht ganz \par an die Klasse eines Herrn Soto heranreicht. Das vierte Album (mu\'dfte mit \par Erschrecken feststellen, da\'df ich den Vorg\'e4nger \'84Blind in Paradise\ldblquote gar nicht \par kenne) enth\'e4lt neun Songs, deren Gesamtspielzeit von d\'fcrftigen 38:54 Min. den \par Begriff Longplayer eigentlich nicht verdient und die Band gewaltig unter \par Druck setzt, denn bei den heutigen CD-Preisen darf man sich bei so einer \par kurzen Spieldaue

Über drei Jahre ist es nun schon wieder her, dass TAKARA ihr letztes reguläres Studioalbum "Blind In Paradise" veröffentlicht haben. Die lange Wartezeit bis zum nun vorliegenden "Perception Of Reality" ist in erster Linie auf die vielen Line - Up - Wechsel zurückzuführen, denn von der "Blind In Paradise" - Mannschaft sind mit Gitarrist Neal Grusky und Basser Carl Demarco nur noch zwei Mitglieder übrig. Die wichtigste Frage lautet natürlich: Wie können TAKARA Ausnahmesänger Jeff Scott Soto ersetzen? Einen adäquaten Ersatz für einen Sänger wie Soto zu finden, ist zwar fast unmöglich, aber TAKARA haben mit Michael Flatters eine gute Lösung gefunden und der Mann aus Portland passt ausgezeichnet zu der Musik von TAKARA. Die Musik wiederum ist auf dem aktuellen Album im Vergleich zu "Blind In Paradise" eine Prise härter ausgefallen. Die Gitarre kommt rockiger zur Geltung, während die Keyboards in den Hintergrund treten mussten, aber auch von dort den neuen Stücken unheimlich viel Atmosphäre verleihen. Nicht geändert hat sich bei TAKARA glücklicherweise beim Gespür, eingängige Melodic Rock - Songs zu schreiben. Das unterstreichen gleich die beiden ersten Tracks "Miles Away" und"Shadows In The Night" oder auch die Ballade "Without You" gehört mit Sicherheit zu den stärksten Stücken in der fast zehnjährigen Geschichte von TAKARA. Einziger Wehrmutstropfen: In der langen Pause bis zum neuen Album hätten ruhig ein wenig mehr als nur neun neue Stücke anfallen können und so ist die Spielzeit von knapp über 38 Minuten gerade die Schmerzgrenze. Trotzdem: Bleibt zu hoffen, dass die Band vielleicht jetzt endlich einmal die Anerkennung bekommt, die sie schon lange verdient und "Perception Of Reality" das Tor zu einer rosigen Zukunft öffnet. Das TAKARA eine Menge Qualität und Können aufweisen, sollte nicht erst mit diesem Album allen Melodic - Rock - Fans bekannt sein.

TB

TAKARA

PERCEPTION OF REALITY
Lion Music LMC 2112 2
Produced by: Dave Anthony & Neal Grusky
GENRE: Hard Rock OVERALL: 82%

Sorry to those waiting on a review of this album and to the band themselves. It's a great album that deserves more attention. Takara now features vocalist Michael Flatters in place of Jeff Scott Soto. It would be hard to claim anyone was as good as Soto, but although Flatters sounds similar, he thankfully doesn't try and imitate him.

He has his own style and sounds great for it. His vocals are strong and helps the songs within this album shine.

This is classic hard rock with a few interesting twists (Tomorrow for example). The ballad Without You is also a highlight.

At 9 tracks, there are no fillers, just all rock n roll and the album is over well before you wish it was. If you haven't check it out yet, then do so, as a solid American hard rock album with a European influence awaits.

source:www.Melodicrock.com

reviewer Andrew Mcniece

Takara - Perception Of Reality

Wow, it's already ten years that the debut "Eternal Faith" has been released... Back then still with Jeff Scott Soto on the mic... After that I have completely lost touch with the band and only now, with their by now fifth album I am confronted with them again, with a different line-up, singer and so on...

What has stayed the same is the musical approach, melodic Hard Rock with very catchy structures and melodies and fluffy keyboards. What TAKARA already had to offer on their debut (and apparently also the albums in between), standard. I know, this word alone has some negative connotation, but it is the truth. Had the debut been quite nice-to-listen-to Melodic Rock, yet nothing that would really sweep you from your seat or you could easily identify as TAKARA, so "Perception Of Reality" does not change anything of that.

That it is no longer Soto singing, but Michael James Flatters, formerly with their label-colleagues of BYRD, is not a negative factor, I personally more like Soto, but Flatters is doing a very good job, too, no doubt. Musicianship also is in the green, leaves us with the problem of the mediocre song-material, I also miss some edges, everything is polishing your auditory passages and the playing time of not even 39 minutes is quite meager, but then again, before they add some trash...

Genre-fans and veteran TAKARA-followers will not be disappointed by "Perception Of Reality", but I doubt just as well that the Americans will win any new fans either.

Takara - Perception of Reality
January 2002 | Released: 2001, Lion Music | Rating: 4.0/5 | Reviewer: JP
Metal-rules.com

Some of my colleagues think it is weird I can enjoy melodic bands like Takara just as much as Cannibal Corpse or somebody heavier. That’s OK because a kick ass band like Takara deserves some recognition and appreciation too!

Once again Lion music, rapidly becoming one of the bright lights in the European metal label industry has provided a fantastic little release. I say “little” because it arrived with little fan-fare, no advertising, no hype etc…but it maintains the tradition of high caliber, high quality, hard rock that Takara is known for.

Great packaging, if a little new age for my tastes, butterflies, seascapes, moons, and little floating globes add to an existential feel to the CD done by none other then Derek Riggs! It is gorgeous however.

Some people in the AOR type crowd suggested that Takara could not easily survive the loss of Jeff Scott Soto but his replacement Michael Flatters does an admirable job, a perfect fit, range, some power, smoothness and control, all good elements in a singer for this type of band. Maybe I’m over-analyzing it but I liked his voice, bottom line!

The songs are all excellent high caliber melodic hard rock style songs. They aren’t too wild or frantic but not too smooth and consequently lacking in balls. Guitar solos are solid and competent, but not too shreddy, the drums and bass are along for the ride fitting in quite nicely…in fact everything about this CD is…nice. Maybe too nice. It is short too… 9 songs at under 40 minutes. The song titles are a little dull as are the lyrics, really nothing new, however, they are positive and up lifting in a sense which makes up for the lack of originality.

Takara are a strange thing, an American (!) classy, melodic hard rock band with tons of European feel and after 15 years and 4 great CD’s this under-rated band still survives in a musical environment hostile to this style. It is a testament to their talent, commitment and dedication to making classy, sophisticated hard rock. A recommended buy.

Nils Hagen
Klaebu
Norway.

Finally..it's here...this is mighty music to digest from the American based power rock band with the Japanese name. They have a new line up too, because Takara has been around for some years, and now they really have found some good creativity and joy.

The legendary Jeff Scott Soto was the bands lead singer for many years, but left the band to go solo, with success, and Michael Flatters replaced Soto behind the microphone stand. Along with their new drummer, Chad Clark, and new keyboardist, Brook Hansen, the "oldies" Neal Grusky (guitar) and Carl Demarco (bass) booked a studio. They stayed there for about a whole year, and now, the album "Perception of reality" is here. And the last time we had such creamy yum-yums to enjoy, was Dream Theater's "Scenes from a Memory". Here we hear some great instrument treatment, delicate use of synths and an over all strong vocal performance. Michael Flatters uses his voice and singing ability to the maximum, and goes well along with Takaras music. He avoids becoming exhausting, like some hard rock band singers. All in all this is a superb performance from Takara, with some progressiveness, and a lot of melodic, heavy, powerful rock. And they also give us a wonderful ballad.

The CD has a tight and good mood, thanks to Takara's skilfulness. Songs like "Without You", "Shadows in the night", and "Simple man" are reasons enough to buy the record. And we find more good songs here. This is probably the best Takara release, and one of the best albums in this genre, ever. I bet the audience at the concerts uses their BIC and Cricket lighters, and sings along when Flatters & co starts up and does my favourite song, "Tomorrow".

The only negative thing to say, is that this album, "Perception of reality", is only 38 minutes. These 38 minutes goes fast, when you have good company like Takara.

For Multimediasentret.no
Nils Hagen

../musikk-omtale : [Temporary] Utgitt: 2002

Takara - Perception of Reality

Endelig er den her…dette er mektig musikk for magen fra dette amerikanske power rock bandet med japansk navn. Ny besetning har de også også, for Takara har vært her noen år nå, men de har virkelig funnet frem kreativiteten og spillegleden.

Legendariske Jeff Scott Soto var lenge vokalist i bandet, men hoppet av for å gå solo, med bra suksess. Som erstatning kom Michael Flatters inn. Sammen med ny trommis, Chad Clark, og ny brettbehandler, Brook Hansen, gikk "gamlekara" Neal Grusky (gitar) og Carl Demarco (bass) i studio. Der ble de i omtrent et år, og nå kommer albumet "Perception of reality". Og ikke siden Dream Theaters "Scenes from a Memory" har vi hatt slike kremsaker å meske oss med. Det er topp instrumentbehandling, delikat syntbruk og sterk vokal-prestasjon hele veien. Michael Flatters bruker stemmen sin for det den er verdt, og legger seg over musikken uten å virke anstrengt. I det hele en superb framføring, litt progressivt, og mye melodisk, tung, sugende rock. En super ballade som seg hør og bør, får man også.

CDen har en tett og god stemning takket være Takaras dyktighet. Sanger som "Without You", "Shadows in the night", og "Simple man" er alene grunn god nok til å kjøpe plata. Og det er flere store låter her. Dette er Takaras beste, så langt, og et av de beste album i denne "båsen" noen sinne. Dessuten får nok konsertgjengere verden over få brukt engangsligteren og sangstemmen når Flatters & co drar min favorittlåt, "Tomorrow", på scenen.

Det eneste man kan utsette på "Perception of reality" er at den bare er 38 minutter. Denne drøye halvtimen går fort i slikt godt selskap.for multimediasenteret.no

Nils Hagen
5 out of 5 stars rating on this CD
Norwiegn review

Der Opener Miles away ist ein straighter Melodic Metalrocker mit tollen Hooks, einem eingängigen Refrain, gut balanciertem Abwechlungsreichtum und einem Guitarsolo, bei dem der E-Gitarre Screams im Malmsteen-Stil herausgekitzelt werden. Selbige Komplimente gelten für das atmosphärische Shadows in the night. Neoklassische Züge fördert das melancholisch groovende Tomorrow ans Tageslicht. Natürlich gibts auch eine Ballade (Without you). Ready to promise und das etwas komplexere LIES sorgen für weiteren tollen Heavy-Melodic Rock. Dream of it all lässt gutes 80er Sleaze-Rock-Feeling aufkommen, Believe ist ein weiterer gelungener Melodic-Rocker und mit Tell me ist eine kleine Melodic-Rock-Hymne am Start.

TAKARA were formed in 1987. After certain changes in the lineup the band is back again with their fourth album "perception of reality". The opener Miles aways is a straight melodic metal rocker with good hooks, catchy chorus, well done variety and a great Malmsteen-style screaming guitar solo. The same goes for the atmospheric Shadows in the night. One song has a slight neoclassical touch ... the melancholic, but still grooving track Tomorrow. Of course there's a ballad ... Without you. Another great melodic heavyrock track is Ready to promise, followed by the a bit more complex song L.I.E.S.. Dream of it all brings back the good old sleaze heavyrock feeling of the late 80ies, Believe brings in another nice melodic rocker and Tell me evolves to a tiny little melodic rock hymn. A good and recommendable melodic rock release without any mistakes ... and with a refreshening raw sound that does not sound polished at all.

www.durp.com/reviews

Takara – Eternal Faith (Reissue)
Lion Music
(http://www.lionmusic.com)

An excellent choice of re-issues by Lion Music http://www.lionmusic.com, Takara’s “Eternal Faith” is a melodic hard rock release that is essential. Takara combines the vocal prowess of Jeff Scott Soto with guitarist Neal Grusky, Gary Schutt (bass) and Robert Duda (drums).

The shame of this 1993 release is the fact that it did not come out in around 1985. This CD would have sold large quantities. Songs like “First Attraction”, “Don’t Walk Away”, “Spotlight” and “Two Hearts Together” are as melodic, catchy and structurally strong as any material by Dokken or Europe from that era. The harmonies on “Just Like Yesterday” are as good as any band of the melodic metal genre. “Eternal Faith” may be one of those close to perfect discs. Rarely does a CD come out that is 10 for 10 on solid tracks without any throwaway material.

Quintessence Metal Webzine
Takara Formed: 1987
Discography:
  • "Eternal Faith" (1990/1993)
  • "Taste Of Heaven" (1995)
  • "Blind In Paradise" (1998)
  • "Perception Of Reality" (2001)
Featured Band: March 2002

There seems to be quite an abundance of bands nowadays reviving the glory days of 80's Metal and Hard Rock but many of them are very young on the scene and very few have stuck it out for more than 10 years. We have had many "reunions" and re-formations the past 4 years with the likes of Dokken, Twisted Sister, Poison, Ratt and several more which unfortunately have lowered their standards and are playing at the smallest venues you can imagine which would never happen if they'd stayed together.Takara defies the clash of "Generation Y" and are embarking on their 15th anniversary as a band and continue to carry the torch of true Rock despite a revamping of the band in 1998 when 3 members left including well-known vocalist Jeff Scott Soto,known for his role in Yngwie Mamsteen's Rising Force on their release, "Marching Out", which brought us classic songs like "I'll See The Light Tonight","Disciples Of Hell" and "On The Run Again"; a truly stellar and masterful release for the ages in guitar-oriented Rock and Metal.Takara's newest offering, "Perception Of Reality" shows off a new side of the band with more edgier songs and vocalist Michael James Flatters. The predecessors are good in their own right with your usual "rockers" and ballads but more on the commercial side of a close "Rising Force" since the lead and rhythms trade-off in the same tasteful manner without all the "Neo-Classical" style. Today's version of Takara is reminiscent to that of a Giuffria meets Rainbow with layered keys and synths but with more dynamics and skillful songwriting; somewhat methodical but commercial enough for radio but ballsy enough to satisfy any guitar enthusiast or Rock listener. The band already has quite the following in Europe and Japan and once they get a whiff of "Perception..", I'm sure they'll agree it out-performs all their previous material. The band thrives on longevity and provide consistency with every release and somehow find a way, despite vast odds, to deliver emphatically and never submit to trends. This is Rock...this is Metal...thisis Takara.

www.takararocks.com

CLICK BELOW FOR A WWW.ROCKNET.NL REVIEW OF TAKARA'S "ETERNAL FAITH"

http://www.rocknet.nl/newreleases/takara_eternal/index.html

TPRS CD Reviews 5/29/02
Takara – Eternal Faith (Reissue)
Lion Music
www.lionmusic.com

An excellent choice of re-issues by Lion Music www.lionmusic.com Takara’s “Eternal Faith” is a melodic hard rock release that is essential. Takara combines the vocal prowess of Jeff Scott Soto with guitarist Neal Grusky, Gary Schutt (bass) and Robert Duda (drums). The shame of this 1993 release is the fact that it did not come out in around 1985. This CD would have sold large quantities. Songs like “First Attraction”, “Don’t Walk Away”, “Spotlight” and “Two Hearts Together” are as melodic, catchy and structurally strong as any material by Dokken or Europe from that era. The harmonies on “Just Like Yesterday” are as good as any band of the melodic metal genre. “Eternal Faith” may be one of those close to perfect discs. Rarely does a CD come out that is 10 for 10 on solid tracks without any throw away material.

Interview by Chilean Web Site "Metal Kingdom"
Metal Kingdom

Do not very often I have the opportunity to comment works as this, Eternal Faith, of the long-known and done not well value (at least in Sudamérica) American of Takara, is an album that unfolds in a classical atmosphere, exactly of the Hard Rock, remembering the biggest productions of Yngwie Malmsteen 1985 and 1986 and with a exceptional composite and musical quality.If you dont know Takara yet, this is only one of the excellent productions that this band has delivered to the world of music in almost 15 years of career.Often, when I tell about the album, I mention other bands as a reference, in this case, as I said, only albums as "Marching Out" and "Trilogy" of Yngwie Malsmteen, can be a general perception, it others only is Takara, style, presence and class.Each song is a different story, a meticulous job do it note to note with a composite and musical special capacity out of common. Expressing a sensibility that everyone does not possess and that is patrimony of only hierarchy musicians. Many choruses, riffs to the pure style of the 80´s and harmonic guitar solos, clear, precise and with a melodic power that you only will be able listens in the old classics of the Hard rock Metal, are the components of an album that does not hide anything, but , shows you with cleaning and simplicity the result of a great job, ¿ Who are the protagonists of this?, the long-known Jeff Scott soto in the voices (also producer of album) and the excellent guitarist Neal Grusky."Spotlight" and "Two Hearts Together" posses the pure essence of the Hard Rock Metal and of all the virtues of Takara and are the pillars of "Eternal Faith", followed by the sensitive, powerful and beautiful power ballad "Restless Heart". The others songs "I Gift´t Believe", "they Fail Angel" and "Colors Fade" corroborate what I have said reiteradamente.As few times I recommend an album so much sure, do not doubt in have it, believe me and only buy it.

TAKARA ‘BLIND IN PARADISE’
(LION MUSIC/BERTUS)
Review by Strutter'zine

With the re-release of the third TAKARA release, LION MUSIC closes the TAKARA book for a while. The album is just like TAKARA’s other records filled with classy melodic rock of a very high level, and together with JEFF SCOTT SOTO’s unmistakable lead vocals it’s another must-have record for fans of the melodic hardrock genre. Highlights on ‘Blind in Paradise’ are “Take U down”, “Your love 2night”, “Love is gone”, “Time waits 4 no one”, “Blind in Paradise” and “Say u’ll say”, but actually all 12 tracks are sensational. It’s a pity Jeff left the band, because he was basically the face behind TAKARA, although we must not forget of course that the real leader of the band is guitarist Neal Grusky, who has always played his instrument very well. Anyway, this TAKARA album is one of those near-classics that should not be forgotten, so if you haven’t got a copy of it, then here’s another opportunity to obtain the album.

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)

Titel: The Best Of ´93 - ´98
Label: Lion Music
Veröffentlichung: 26.03.2004
Laufzeit: 77:31 Minuten
Takara sind eine 1987 gegründete amerikanischeHard Rock Band, deren Sänger Jeff Scott Soto war.Viele Leser müssten den tollen Sänger von Yngwie Malmsteen, Axel Rudi Pell, Eyes oder seinem aktuellem Soloprojekt kennen. Takara war aber eigentlich immer das Baby von Gitarrist Neil Grusky. In den Grunge und Alternative verseuchten 90ern hat die Band die Hard Rock Fahne mit den Alben "Eternal Faith", "Taste Of Heaven" und "Blind In Paradise" hoch gehalten. Irgendwann Ende der 90er Jahre war dann Schluss und Soto tanzte zu der Zeit ja auf sehr vielen Hochzeiten. Deshalb brachte die Band zum Abschluss eine Best Of heraus, die sich "Eternal Faith" nannte. Die mir hier vorliegende CD "Eternity - The Best Of ´93 - ´98" ist eine Wiederauflage und durchaus gerechtfertigt, da man Takara CDs leider nicht an jeder Ecke erwerben kann.Eine fette Spielzeit von fast 78 Minuten und die akustischen Bonustracks der ebenfalls enthaltene Songs "Restless Heart" und "Your Love" rechtfertigen diese CD eher als das dünne Booklet, was keine Texte sondern lediglich ein paar Bilder der verschiedenen Lineups und ein paar nette Liner Notes von Neil Grusky enthält.Die Songs sind von flotten Uptempo Nummern über Midtempotracks bis hin zu einigen Balladen erstklassig, lediglich der etwas dünne Sound welcher leider nicht aufpoliert wurde stört. Trotzdem ist es eine geile Platte und für Jeff Fans unverzichtbar.P.S. Takara bereiten sich im komplett neuen Lineup um Neil Grusky auf eine neue Platte vor!

Note:
www.myrevelations.de Verfasser: Thorsten Dietrich
eMail-Adresse des Verfassers: thor@myrevelations.de

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