Ellefson – Soto – Vacation In the Underground Review

Released by: Rat Pack Records

Release date: October 7, 2023

Type: metal

links: https://www.facebook.com/ellefsonsoto/

Lined up:

Jeff Scott Soto - vocals

David Ellefson - Bass

Andy Martongli - guitar

Paolo Caridi - drums

track list:

1) Vacation in the underworld

2) Like a bullet

3) Sharpen the sword

4) The reason

5) STN

6) Revolution

7) Celebrity trash

8) Live to die another day

9) before tomorrow

10) Hercules

11) Go up to win

12) Out Of The Blue (Bonus Track)

13) Lone Star (Bonus Track)

14) Writing on the wall (Bonus Track)

After a seemingly messy and contentious breakup with Megadeth, Dave Ellefson is on his own, ready to take what he’s learned over his years of being a Thrash Metal fan with one of the “Big 4” to forge a track king. Writing a song, once complete, knew whose voice should be added. After watching the regular performances of the Trans-Siberian Philharmonic Orchestra, he met by chance Jeff Scott Soto, and this was the sound he heard for the song “Writing on the Wall”. Once the track was laid, a partnership was quickly established, the songs streamed, and thus the creation of the new project Ellefson-Soto.

Their debut album, Vacation In the Underground isn’t something one would expect from any of these legends, but when they come together, you realize that it pretty much fits the context of this collaboration. Soto’s voice is so special that you’ll instantly recognize it. If you prefer JSS metal over Melodic, you’re in luck. Metal Jeff is on this album. And while Ellefson is best known for his bass work that complements a much heavier style, the weight of this album stems from his background. I went to this album fully anticipating my usual reaction to the JSS project as I would immediately love it. On the contrary, my first couple of listeners found me somewhat frustrated. I’ve found that some songs lack a certain spirit to them, with little to no dynamics. Sometimes they seemed heavy for a great purpose. The back half of the album improved upon those first few cycles but skipping over the first part was kind of dull at first. However, after two more attempts, it finally clicked. I still don’t like it close to like I do JSS projects (shocking I know coming from me) or Dave stuff with Megadeth, but it’s a farmer rather than a show. “Celebrity Trash” is where the album began to find its identity and introduced more melodic elements while staying heavy. This is a wonderful funky rustic, and the song is very memorable. Moreover, tracks like “Rise To Win”, “Lonestar” and “Writing On the Wall” perfectly demonstrate the potential of this pairing. It felt like they had finally stepped out of their comfort zones and entered into a more serious experience. In addition, another shocker is a mellow song with “Out of the Blue,” which happens to be one of the additional tracks. Even for Soto, this is a beautiful and painfully powerful path. And of course, if you had told me years ago that Dave Elfson would be on an album with a song, let alone write it, I would have laughed.

As with most things called “draft,” there’s no telling if there will be more of this duo. I’ll definitely be on board to continue, and the next one will probably be the knockout I was expecting. Ellefson-Soto Vacation In the Underground is an album you have to give a shot at, and you have to let it soak completely before it can be appreciated.

Written by: Chris Martin

Ratings: 8/10

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