I must confess that I’ve never heard the name “Max Navarro” and what was even more impressive was the fact that “Somewhere South Of Heaven”, their newest album, was the fifth release in its 11-year of recording career. This is really the brainchild of singer Max Phillip Navarro who serves, also, as the band’s manager and producer. Based in Vancouver, the Canadian outfit has inked a new deal with AW Recordings label and this is the debut release under their license.

Upon listening to the album two things came straight into my mind: a) the obvious influence of such bands as Bon Jovi, Nickelback, Goo Goo Dolls etc. and b) why I haven’t heard of them up to now? This is a fine sample of modern hard rock that is blended wonderfully with the classic rock (in the vein of Tom Petty’s “Full Moon Fever”). For instance, the song “Hollywood” has Nickelback’s “Never Again” riff all over it, “Sick Sentimental Plans” could have easily find a place in the latter Bon Jovi albums while “All Over With You” bears the best elements of what Goo Goo Dolls once had.

If only the production was better and the mix pushed the guitars and drums a little bit, then “Somewhere South Of Heaven” would have been a most complete sonic endeavor. Nevertheless, this is one hell of an album by Max Navarro that has already put me on a trail of searching for the rest of their albums. Well, better late than never…right?

Highlight: I wonder if Max Navarro is familiar with Slayer’s album…“South Of Heaven”?