One of the perks of being a reviewer is that on some days you get the pleasure of getting introduced to some music or bands you never heard of but are actually quite good. Or in the case of Joe Deninzon And Stratospheerius, really good!

Now I do have to be honest and say that this album took a while for me to wrap my ears around. But when it did, it was an epiphany of wonderful proportions. Joe Deninzon is a wonderful musician who has worked with an array of artists like Sheryl Crowe, Bruce Springsteen, and Ritchie Blackmore. He writes and arranges in different styles but with Stratospheerius he has found a very creative output in a rock and progressive direction.

Being called the Jimi Hendrix of the electric violin is something Deninzon can be very proud of and he showcases this and more of his talent on his latest release on the Melodic Revolution Records label. Guilty of Innocence is the fifth album by the band fronted by Joe who also sings and plays mandolin and acoustic guitar. The sheer mastery of the instruments and in particular the violin of Deninzon himself is remarkable. He is backed by Jamie Bishop on bass guitar, Aurelien Budynek on guitars and vocals, and last but not least Lucianna Padmore on drums and percussion. The three of them as talented as Deninzon could wish for.

There is a lot of great music on this album but there are a few stand out tracks for me. The rocking opener Behind the Curtain shows you just how good Deninzon`s voice suits in the musical direction this band takes him. The funky track Affluenza and Face showcase more great twists and turns within just a few minutes.

The Muse song Hysteria is getting the Stratospheerius treatment in a wonderful way that somewhat surprised me as I found it a very risky decision to cover such a song, but the band performed it very well indeed.

But album closer Soul Food is the best and most prog track in my opinion. The band gets it all out on this track with stomping rock, progressive segments a la Kansas and a wonderful break in the song featuring mandolin and acoustic guitar. The track also features the talents of guitarists Alex Skolnick (Testament) and Randy McStyne (The Fringe).

Released in the fall of 2017, this album is highly recommended by myself and I think you will agree with me after a couple of spins.
9/10

by Arno Agterberg // DPRP
Original article http://www.dprp.net/reviews/2018-023#deninzon

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