RAISING MY OWN HELL
I can't tell you the number of strange looks I've received over the years when I claim two of my top five hair bands of all time to be Love/Hate and Little Angels. The overwhelming look of confusion is only equaled by the number of people that simple say, "who the fuck is that?" Little Angels was, without question, the single most underappreciated band of the hair band era. In a time that saw Def Leppard become one of the biggest bands ever, it simply should have been Little Angels. They were better musicians. They wrote much stronger songs than Leppard did with HYSTERIA on forward. They didn't sell out to make it. Most importantly, their singer Toby Jepson was just flat out better. I've always felt that "Don't Pray For Me" and "Broken Wings Of An Angel" are two of the very best ballads ever recorded in an era where careers were cemented based on a solid ballad (Motley Crue, Poison, Mr. Big, Warrant, Skid Row all found their groove based on huge ballads). It's been a lot of years since then, and big success always eluded Jepson and Little Angels, but RAISING MY OWN HELL proves that nothing has been lost with this vocalist.
An acoustic-like EP, RAISING MY OWN HELL makes it clear that the powerful pipes of Jepson have never faded. he sounds as good now as he did when the band debuted; a total crooner with amazing range, depth and soul in his sound. Listening to songs like "Patience Of A Saint", you realize right away that Jepson still brings a raw emotional aspect to everything he sings, but still has far more natural skill than most singers today. While most of his contemporaries have needed to downtune to simply make their songs presentable, Jepson showcases the fact that he sounds as good now as he did back then, going up and down the octave scale naturally and with both power and ease. The brooding "Four Letter Word" has the grit you would want from an attitude ladened song like this, and yet his sound is so smooth that you can't help but be sucked in by it. "Raising My Own Hell" sounds like it could have been ripped from the Little Angels' album YOUNG GODS, in large part because of Jepson's ability to tell a story in a compelling, and yet fun manner.
PITRIFF RATING - 96/100 - When it was announced that Jepson was a part of the Dio Disciples sharing vocals with legendary metal throat Tim "Ripper" Owens, I think most were surprised. Certainly, it didn't seem like a match. That is, unless you know Jepson's career and the wide vocal range he possesses. The acoustic RAISING MY OWN HELL is an exquisite collection of unplugged rockers that's about as good a listen as it gets for this kind of release. I may be in the minority since most never gave his band a chance back in the day, but I'm more than thrilled he's back releasing music.