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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Review: Lisa Smith's Powerhaus - Maze Of Souls

Lisa Smith’s Powerhaus – Maze Of Souls
2008, Powerhaus

Lisa Smith is known to Canadian rock fans as Daneka, lead singer of goth rockers Exovedate. Chuck Page is known by guitar rock fans across Canada as one of the meanest axe players to strap on a six string. Put these two dynamic personalities together on stage and you have the type of pairing not seen since David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen decided they couldn’t share a sandbox. Smith’s powerful voice is capable of the vocal histrionics of Geoff Tate or Ronnie James Dio, the gruff extremity of Rob Halford, or the operatic metal of David Coverdale. Chuck Page is a blues/rock man, earning comparisons to Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. Put the two together and you have Lisa Smith’s Powerhaus, perhaps one of the best things to happen to the Toronto Rock N Roll scene in some time. Their debut album, Maze Of Souls, dropped in 2008 and is still making waves. Let’s check it out!

Maze Of Souls is a confounding album. Lisa Smith has an amazing rock voice; able to alter her sound to fit the song/style she’s singing within a limited breadth of styles. She’s somewhere between Lee Aaron and old school Pat Benetar stylistically. Her deep amber alto is lined with a bit of barbed wire when she wants it; there aren’t too many female rock vocalists like her nowadays. The band can rock when they’re up to it, and it seems like the potential is here for a an amazing ride on Maze Of Souls. What we find is a bit more typical of a 1980’s hair metal band, however. Maybe four songs of the eleven presented on Maze Of Souls truly inspire the listener, but there is a tendency toward blandness that belies the spark that the individual pieces can create. Maze Of Souls opens on The Verge, a straight forward classic hard rock tune. This is the listener’s introduction to Smith’s voice but is otherwise fairly typical of the genre. Red Door gets more into the hair metal sound, with Smith sounding a bit like Stephen Pearcy at times here. The Needle is the obligatory acoustic tune. This song gets stuck in a melodic and lyric rut pretty quickly, making up in repetition what it lacks in ideas.

Crazy For You turns things around in a big way. Huge hooks and a lively rock sound show off what the band is capable of, and Smith is right there driving the band along on what is by far the best song on the CD. Rat infuses a touch of blues into a straight up hard rock tune; the guitar work here is impressive and Smith’s vocal presence do a lot for an average song. Innocence Lost is perhaps the second best tune here, living on killer hooks and driving rock sound that will stick with you. The rest of the album is somewhat bland or even awkward (No More War) at times.

Lisa Smith has a voice that will knock you over the head and drag you back home. Within her range she’s a superstar, and Smith is smart enough to stay in her comfort zone on Maze Of Souls. The band is excellent, particularly guitarist Chuck Page, who has a bit of wizardry in his fingers. From the songwriting perspective Lisa Smith’s Powerhaus is generally pretty average or typical of their genre, although they do manage to find two or three breakout tunes here. A top notch producer could do big things with Lisa Smith’s Powerhaus; the potential is here.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Lisa Smith’s Powerhaus at or You can purchase a copy of Maze Of Souls at, or you can download the album through iTunes.

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