After Bob Katsionis’ latest solo album (“Prognosis and Synopsis”, 2018), a true masterwork, we were waiting eagerly Katsionis’ return with Outloud, his melodic hard rock band. Four years had passed since the excellent “Let’s Get Serious” album, and our appetite for some ass-kicking, hard rocking melodies was getting bigger and bigger. So Katsionis and co. brought us a new album, called “Virtual Hero Society”. From the very first moment I listened to the album tracks until now, I have not stopped listening to Outloud’s new hard rock gem! It is a masterpiece, a melodic hard rock monument, a great opus, which will always be praised by the fans and critics – and surely, a majestic work of which the band shall be proud! I don’t know where to start from – the melodies are fantastic and catchy, the riffs are remarkable and unforgettable, the musicians’ performance is mindblowing. Yes, Outloud managed to deliver us one of its best albums – and personally, my favorite album of the band until now. These words may sound poor, you’ ve got to listen to the new Outloud songs, I am sure you will get excited – “Fool’s Train” is the gritty, heavy opener of “VHS”, full of guitar riffs, memorable vocal lines and 70s classic rock elements (listen for example to the Hammond after the middle of the song), “My Promise” stands as one of the most mature Outloud songs, with its guitar/keys intro and the amazing refrain, sung passionately by Chandler Mogel. “Virtual Heroes” sounds dark, shady and atmospheric, and will impress you with Katsionis’s guitar phrases and Mogel’s lead and backing vocals. And as we go on, we find the hits of the album: “I Am the One”, “World-Go-Round”, “We Got Tonite”, “Borrowed Time”, “Live with It”, “…And I Tried” are great songs, with beautiful melodic hooks that we will haunt you! If you want to live singular moments of joy and experience the gloriousness of rock n’ roll, just push play and listen to these true hits! Of course, we have a sentimental ballad, “Share My Dreams”, which is going to speak to your heart – the record ends with the more aggressive and heavier than the other songs, “Fight On!”. So, what we have here is a sonic blast – a melodic hard rock blast; we knew that Katsionis and Mogel would present us with something very interesting and attractive but “Virtual Hero Society” is way more charming and successful than we could possibly expect! One of the best melodic hard rock albums of our times!

♦ 9/10

Dimitris Zacharopoulos