Updated: Mar 2
By Jessica McKeown
2022 looks to be a promising year for new music releases, which gives fans some excitement in such turbulent, unexpected times as we all have experienced the past two years. A global pandemic shut down and now changes the entertainment industry and world at the drop of a dime, and new music is always a great escape from those woes. GIANT fans have a new escape early in the year with the release of the band’s fifth studio album and first album in almost twelve years "Shift in Time" on January 21st.
MUSICAL STYLE THOUGHTS
The biggest strength the album (and the band itself) has is new vocalist Kent Hilli. Hilli is a dynamic vocalist with great vocal control, power, and intonation, which is impressive enough. The magic he brings, though, is the genuine joy and fun that listeners hear and feel from him in every song. His performances ooze passion and love for what he is a part of; it is the energy of a child joining his heroes. Everything about his performance on this album reflects GIANT being his favorite band (as he mentioned in the past), and you cannot help but smile at the thought of the man achieving a dream. There are no detectable weaknesses, and (thankfully) producer and background vocalist Alessandro Del Vecchio did not over-produce the album to take away from that – only to enhance it with incredibly complementary harmonies and background vocals.
Their final single before "Shifting Time"’s release “The Price of Love” feels like one of the only “weaker” or interest-losing songs on the album. (One of the other ballads such as “My Breath Away” or “It’s Not Over” may have been a more interesting ballad single choice.) It is hard to call it a totally weak track, though. The two prior-released singles “Let Our Love Win” and “Never Die Young” gave GIANT a strong returning presence with strong vocals and excellent instrumentals from founding members David Huff and Mike Brignardello as well as John Roth of Winger and Starship fame, whom they recruited in 2009. “Never Die Young” even has a special surprise lead guitar appearance from original singer and guitarist Dann Huff, which hits longtime fans in the nostalgia.
Shift in Time definitely has some shining lyrical moments throughout. There is pain, love, heartbreak, hope, and hopelessness all portrayed throughout the track list; these are the human condition. The lines in some of the verses and choruses, though, master imagery and the “show, don’t tell” writing practice. “Never Die Young” stuck out with the first part of its first verse (“Here we stand in a world / When lives are going under / We cry for love / I’m trying hard to make it through / In a world that makes you wonder / If it’s not enough”). The word choices and arrangements are fantastic, and the first verse especially hits hard after the last couple years.
Another strongly emotion-evoking tune on the album is “It’s Not Over”. This is a song full of desperation and heartbreaking starting right at the first verse (“I wish all that was said was undone / And you were here in my arms / Another try, another chance to save it / There was a time you’d never leave”). Even the chorus guts you with lines like “I feel so much love gone to waste / I’m still loving you / But my heart just can’t wait” and Hilli’s emotive performance matching the tone.
"Shift in Time" is a strong contribution to the hard rock/classic rock genre as well as the band’s catalogue. Is it GIANT’s best album released to date? Nothing can really top their first two albums. However, the record is still solid as steel. Despite several lineup changes and intermittent album releases, this band came back stronger than ever this year. A GIANT album is bound to be a good listen (at least most of the time), and that is true for this release. It is easy and enjoyable to listen to in its entirety and still sounds great after multiple listens.