UniversalDice - 'Birth, Love, Hate, Death'
Infidel Records, UniversalDice is a band who delivers classic-rock-operas with huge musical landscapes, in-depth story-lines/characters and lyrical explorations of life's complexities, mysteries and meaning. The band features: Gerry Dantone, lead vocals, guitars, programming; Bob Barcus, guitars; Ed Canova,bass; and Walt Sargent and Vin Crici on keys. Songwriter, singer, political and philosophical writer/activist Gerry Dantone delivers more than music in his song-writing; he delivers a complete experience. If you close your eyes and listen, you will be transported into ta colorful, world as if you are reading a novel. Inspired by artists such as the Who and the Beatles, UniversalDice's new self recorded and produced 16-track album 'Birth, Love, Hate, Death' is a great way to introduce yourself to the band's captivating, page-turning performance.
Each song on the album is strung together in a cinematic fashion sung from different perspectives representing the "characters" viewpoint. For example, track three "Your Son" depicts a toxic relationship between a mother and a son, told from the son's perspective. Kicking off the song is a guitar progression with slight distortion, accompanied by a rocking drum beat and synth keys droning in the background. The vocals enter to suit the mood, mellow with a haunting timbre. When combined with the instrumentation, UniversalDice sets a stormy mood that captivates you right from the start. “Your Son” is a very moving song about childhood abuse showing that UniversalDice doesn't shy away from serious and difficult topics.
Another stand-out composition on the album is “My Hands Are Tied” (Track 5). "My Hand Are Tied" changes up the vibe with a strong pop-theater flavor, an upbeat tempo, with catchy melodies and memorable chorus. Nice electric guitar leads compliment this arrangement. This song is a great example of how well the compositions on the album reflect the mood and emotion of the lyrics. Vocally, Dantone shows incredible diversity, moving to a tenor-ranged, clear pop presentation with ease. The song's perspective is from a boy who has a larger-than-life crush on a girl - he "takes a pill to gather up some courage, but instead get an awful headache." There is an innocence that is revealed as the words delve into the humanistic themes of inadequacy and humiliation. Sung from the same perspective is “Danielle,” a song about pretentiousness. "Danielle, you're the life of the party. Danielle, you'll never say you're sorry. Does the new car mean you've got it made? Do you have a friend you won’t betray?" The band demonstrates tight musicianship in this multi-layered track. Both "My Hands Are Tied" and "Danielle" have a musical-esk vibe bringing the drama to life. Another song from the perspective of "the Boy" is“Better Man.” This song has a classic rock instrumental track that rocks out with great electric guitar riffs and a solo jam section. "Better Man" is about the Boy’s fear of losing love and his willingness to do what it takes to keep the love alive."I love you so much, I’d risk losing you. I can’t do nothin’, ‘cept what’s right by you." The song is sung with passion as if Dantone is inside the character's heart.
As the engaging album progresses, the images of the opera grow stronger and come more into focus, like a good page turner, each song unfolds with suspense. Following "Better Man' is the ballad "Honesty,' which is a duo between the Boy and Danielle. This moving ballad, which was my favorite track on the album,is sure to be a fan favorite with its intricate piano playing, infectious melodies and harmonies. The beautiful performance demonstrates UniveralDice's ability to write raw and genuine emotion. "Honestly, honestly, do you really love me? Are you thinking of me? Honestly, honestly, are you trying to use me? You think you’ll seduce me?"
“Sleeping Alone” marks a climactic point in the rock opera that explores doubt and insecurity and the desire to feel grounded in love. It opens with a melodic piano line accompanied by synth strings. This duet changes from a soft ballad into a tense rocking jam and is sure to get your blood pumping in suspense for what is going to happen next. The final song on the album is sung solely from the perspective on Danielle and is titled, “Forever.” The song opens with a gentle piano progression that is soon accompanied by lovely acoustic guitar and a steady drum beat. "Forever" wraps up the rock opera with lessons learned. "Love is the warm embrace, love is the saving grace. We need to help each other." It has a memorable hook that is sure to stick with you leaving a lasting memory of this rock opera in your mind.
'Birth, Love, Hate, Death' is an extremely highly developed musical concept album that gives listeners substantial musical content while delivering insight on the struggles of love and growing into yourself. UniversalDice has found their niche with an ability to write songs that build insightful stories with memorable melodies and hooks that would allow each song to stand alone and shine, but when pieced together form a grand work of art. Other albums by UniversalDice touch on themes like faith, meaning and purpose, politics and social issues. Their music, along with more information on this prolific band, can be found on their website,