Reviews & Spotlights

Hugo's VOYAGE: Inception

The word 'inception' is defined as the establishment or starting point of an institution or activity. Now, Hugo's VOYAGE was formed in 2005 and would go on to become the most successful touring Journey tribute band in the United States - attracting a dedicated following of fans who are deeply moved by the music. But, they haven't seemed fit to release tracks under their own moniker until only recently. With the much-anticipated Inception from Frontiers Music they offer a trek back in time while also pointing to new exciting ports of call in the genre. So - buckle up for a rockin' and refreshing ride!

Hugo's VOYAGE features former Valentine and Open Skyz singer Hugo Valenti on vocals; Robby Hoffman (guitar); Greg Smith (bass); Dana Spellman (drums); and, Lance Millard (keyboards) who together have set out on a musical journey that crafts a signature - yet, very familiar - sound that pays homage to their main influence while carving out a unique and vibrant identity that makes the trip memorable and ultimately very worthwhile.

"For me, it was a natural progression for us to follow our inspiration and come out with an album of original songs. This one's for all the AOR fans out there," says Hugo.

The album's 12-tracks are certainly a platform to showcase Hugo's voice - with its incredible range, captivating tone and unparalleled emotional depth that translate his personal experiences into timeless melodies and lyrics. Inception is a testament to his songwriting prowess and his commitment to creating music that resonates with all people. The compositions explore universal themes of love, hope, loss and self-discovery - accompanied by infectious melodies that linger in the minds of listeners long after the final note fades away.

Much like the band that guides their way, Hugo's VOYAGE excels at creating both riveting rockers and beautiful ballads and the musical journey contained within their debut record leads to a pretty remarkable destination - one that should have you slotting in Inception firmly within the "J" section on your CD rack.

It doesn't take long for the classic vocals harmonies made famous by that other band to show themselves underscored often by Schon-style riffs and sweeping guitar solos. Of course, Journey has achieved chart success over the decades with their "Don't Stop Believing" becoming one of the most played songs on the planet. So, it's no surprise that Hugo and company would voyage into that territory and the piano driven "Don't Wanna Live Without Your Love" is certainly a respectful and playful pastiche reminiscent of Journey's most famous track.

Hugo is in fine voice throughout and there is no doubt that he sounds very much like the "voice" on Journey's most successful records. Still, Inception is most sonically similar to the latter-era Perry smooth vocal offerings and radio-friendly fare found on Trial By Fire. And, there are several tracks that seem to be mirroring the harrowing tales that populate the grooves of Steve's most recent solo album - especially the heart wrenching closer "When Heaven Makes An Angel". So, this one has a little bit of everything for those who truly miss Journey's most sonically gifted singer.

But, Journey is an active band who is still touring and releasing music of their own. So, why is Hugo's VOYAGE even necessary at this time? Well, in many ways Inception represents almost everything that you would want from a new Journey album - especially with that band's recent offerings that many say missed the mark. Throw in the fact that this ticket sets sail without all the toxic drama and dirty laundry being aired by that other outfit in recent years - and, well, then maybe that's the point.

Related Links: For more information on THIS REVIEW please visit the following links - Review by Rockin' Rich Lynch | Hugo's VOYAGE


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