Upon Further Review: Alta Reign’s Mother’s Day

All images courtesy of Jeff Plate

Alta Reign - Mother's Day Review | Angry Metal Guy
All images courtesy of Jeff Plate

To say that Jeff Plate was elated to learn of the positive reviews that his solo project of over 30 years yielded would be an understatement.

“Response has been fantastic,” Plate beamed. “I think everyone who has heard it really enjoys the music. They enjoy the fact that it’s very original-sounding.”

Plate, who has spent the better part of three decades as the drummer for Trans-Siberian Orchestra, kicked off the new year in style, releasing his highly anticipated solo album with his band Alta Reign, entitled Mother’s Day.

Playing in a band called Wicked Witch with guitarist Matt Leff and vocalist Zak Stevens in Rockland, MA., in the late 80s, Plate’s makeshift recording setup – which consisted of a couple 8 channel boards, a reverb unit, and a cassette deck – compiled twenty-five 90-minute cassettes worth of unfinished material.

“Probably about four years ago, I was listening to one of these tapes and it was literally starting to deteriorate because it’s 30 years old,” Plate said. “I thought, ‘Jeez, I’ve got to start digitizing some of this stuff or I’m going to lose it.’”

After receiving the green light from his former bandmates, Plate forged ahead in his tireless pursuit of crafting an album that aligned with his vision – and it was well worth the wait.

Mother’s Day, released to the masses on Jan. 8 via Rat Pak Records, offers moments of brilliance throughout the 12-track journey.

The album opens with a song called “Shine,” which captures the very essence and energy of the record. Collin Holloway, who shares vocal duties, demonstrates terrific range, and complements Cook’s tasteful guitar playing. The album gets off to a roaring start, and due to its diversity, I get Ghost vibes throughout, but particularly when I hear “Shine.” My favorite track on the album.

Skip ahead two songs, and you’ll find “Thin Red Line,” a heavy, progressive-sounding track. The fiery guitar opening gives way to Holloway’s vocals, who demonstrate impressive chops here. Again, this song, to me, captures a unique sound that I find most comparable to Ghost.

Mother’s Day features a riff and solo from fellow TSO bandmate, Joel Hoekstra. This particular track adopts a heavier, yet melodic sound, reminiscent of Dokken from their Back for the Attack album (1987). Tommy Cook dazzles on vocals and the solo from Hoekstra elevates it to the stratosphere.

“I asked Joel if he would you be interested in playing on something,” Plate explained. “He said, ‘Absolutely.’” “So, I presented Mother’s Day to Joel and I asked him to play a riff over the intro drum part there and also in the middle of the song. His solo was just perfect, it was magic. He did it in a day-and-a-half.”

Plate’s creation is anything but an ordinary sounding record, as I often found myself drawing comparisons to Dokken, Ghost, TSO, and in certain spots, vintage Savatage.

The entire band, Plate (drums), Jane Mangini (keyboards), Tommy Cook (guitars, lead vocals), Kevin McCarthy (bass), Collin Holloway (guitars, lead vocals), and Zach Hamilton (keyboards, guitars, vocals) all come to play, though I came away particularly impressed with Cook’s performance.

“Tommy Cook’s guitar playing, once he started hearing back what he was playing and how I expected him to play, rhythmically it just needed to be very tight. For the most part, he writes all his own solos; sometimes I’ll give him some direction on some things. Tommy is just very, very, very good, and man, he just really shined on this record.”

Given the overwhelmingly positive response to Plate’s long-awaited solo effort, it’s safe to say the accomplished drummer plans to continue riding the momentous wave.

“Now that Mother’s Day is out, I want to follow it up with another strong record,” Plate said. “So, I’m literally working on this every day.”

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