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Chicago, Illinois, United States

Chicago, Illinois, United States
Band Rock Alternative


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"Jordan Macarus - "Balancing Act" CD"

Jordan has been my ultimate guitar player, in any genre of music, ever since I heard the monolithic Winterhawk LP of 1982. Here, Mr. Macarus keeps that role more than alive with a sterling set of 9 cuts. They range from the timeless, folk-like simplicity of "Pointless War" and "Pvt. Unknown" to the involved hard rock epics of the title cut and the massive 9 min "Wall Of Fire." Thru it all, Jordan fronts his band with veteran ease. His throaty vocals convey more emotion than most operatic singers and his guitarwork is devastating. I have never heard a person who can combine both technical ability and sheer, raw feeling the way this guy can. No words can describe it, you must hear!
- Chaos Realm - USA

"Jordan Macarus - "Balancing Act" CD"

Jordan Macarus should be familiar to Edge of Time readers for his work with the legendary Winterhawk. Since his Winterhawk days, Jordan has been involved in numerous musical endeavours and "Balancing Act" sees Jordan surrounded by a range of different musicians. In fact, apart from Jordan's unique style of guitar playing, "Balancing Act" does not have that much in common with vintage hard rock of Winterhawk. The nine songs are more in the folksy and bluesy rock vein with a dominant role for the acoustic guitar and guest starring roles for the violin and harmonica (giving some of the songs that characteristic honky tonk sound). Although the songs might not be everyone's taste the talented songwriting and exquisite playing demand respect. The mood is mostly laid back and tranquil with an emphasis on bringing across emotions. It is only in a few songs that the wolf drops his sheep clothing and Jordan really pulls out all the stops. Examples are the title track with some of the best twin guitar
soloing heard this year and the 9 minute epic "Wall of Fire" which starts peacefully before building up to a frenzy of intense guitar playing. Spine chilling, and the fact some of the songs were partly recorded live makes it even more jaw awe inspiring.
It certainly tranquillises the agony of the wait for long-planned Winterhawk live album.
4 1/4 out of 5
- Edge of Time - Europe

"Winterhawk - "Revival" CD"

You probably recognize the feeling: there's a bunch of CD's near the player and among them there's lots of good stuff. But one of them has gotten you hooked so much, that the rest of the records just stands there untouched and forgotten. In the past, this happened to me with Iron Maiden ("Killers"), Helstar ("Remnants of war"), Metal Church ("Metal Church"), Leatherwolf (every record), Warlord (ditto), In The Name ("In The Name") and the Italian singer Alice (a private "amore"
on my account; she was and still is the most elegant of all Italian singer-songwriters).

And now there's this obscure CD-reissue, by a band I'd never heard of before, and here I find myself sitting in my chair, listening to this record by headphones far into the small hours, when all witches have parked their broomsticks and gone to sleep.

"Revival" is the name of the drug and is supplied by a band from Illinois that wasn't even truly a band: Winterhawk. It was a project put together in the late seventies by guitarist Jordan Macarus with some
highschool buddies and unknowns, so they could play some old-style, keyboard-free heavy rock. At the end of 1981/beginning of 1982, after the usual band-trouble and line-up changes, Jordan and two other
musicians that were left recorded seven tracks in the studio and released them as a self-financed limited edition vinyl-debut called "Revival". This long sold out and rare LP is now released on CD for the first time, along with two studio-tracks from 1986 and a live-recording from 1979, by the Texas-based label Monster Records.
When I first heard the CD, it left me speechless. I realised that even back in 1979, Macarus and Co. never stood a chance of getting a major record deal: their music was simply too intense, true and non-commercial for the A&R's of the big companies to understand and
thus market to their standard consumer.
Singer Doug Brown (lead vocals on six of the tunes) sounds like a cross between Brad Delp (Boston) and Geddy Lee (Rush). The live-smasher "Hammer and the axe" (with raw lead vocals by Macarus himself), however, sounds like Golden Earring 1974 A.D.! There's the Rainbow-touch in "Sanctuary" (with medieval period-inspired lyrics), while at the other end of the musical spectrum you'll surprisingly find a boogie number like "Can't see the forest for the trees". Despite the fact I can never really get into that type of upbeat party music, the up-tempo song gets its luminous edge because of Jordan Macarus' exceptional playing.
In my past twenty years as an addict of heavy guitar music, I have never heard anyone who played the electric guitar like Jordan Macarus. The three songs that Macarus wrote on his own in 1979 ("Period of change", "Revival" and "Free to live") I shall take with me into my grave, because I don't think I will ever hear anything like that again even in the afterlife.
In these epic tracks not just the musical feeling stands out, but Mr. Macarus has complete control over his soloing within the arrangements. It's almost eerie to hear how beautifully melodic and natural the licks flow from that Stratocaster. I worship certain
guitarists (William Tsamis of Warlord/Lordian Guard, Mark Stewartson of the Canadian band In The Name, Steve Kachinsky of Steel Prophet), but now I have to admit that guitar history has been incomplete for almost two decades.

The beauty of the "Revival"-album is mainly due to the aforementioned three tracks, of which the lyrics deal with the yearning for freedom, of saying goodbye and the chasing of one's dreams (or perhaps should I say illusions), despite the fact that life (or perhaps I should say reality) catches up with you in the end:

"I'm getting along in years
and my friends have all forgotten me"
(From "Revival")
"It won't take too long to find out what you're
looking for
But it won't wait outside your door
And I don't mind living alone
That's the way I am"
(From "Period of change")

Then, from this melancholy point of view, Macarus starts to play, plays himself into this dreamed freedom of solitude, almost flees from one amazing solo to another, towards an horizon that most of us will never see or feel. The Guitar Man makes this horizon of vagabonds visible to us and that's what makes "Revival" a timeless record. Because nothing is as deep as the longing for something that's beyond everyday reality, and whoever can bring this essence to music, to life, has an extraordinary gift.

Feeling was the important component to Macarus, and as comparison with other players, the names of Mark Reale (early Riot-phase), Rik Emmett (Triumph) and Michael Schenker spring to mind. In "Intro" and "Sanctuary" you'll trace some Ritchie Blackmore, mainly because of
the typical rhythm guitar. The lengthier tracks possess a light progressive flair due to various breaks and time-changes, but have little in common with the prog genre. After all, Winterhawk were, bless their hearts, a rockband.

The 1986-bonus cuts "Fallen dinosaur" (an instrumental that's hard to get into) and "Elijah" (with very poetic lyrics), disappointingly, have nothing in common with the Winterhawk-style. Even Macarus' playing has lost - mainly because of the production on these tracks - its distinctive soaring quality. Also, I miss the voice of Doug Brown, who was a vital trademark on the "Revival"-LP. The closing track "Hammer and the axe" was recorded in 1979 during a show at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago and once more demonstrates how versatile this talented band was. Heavy rock to the max, played with a fierce energy by outstanding musicians who were no doubt able to blow the headlining band out of the water. And because Winterhawk opened for many a name act back then (Black Oak Arkansas, Jefferson Starship, Steppenwolf), I suspect that quite a few musicians got cold feet
(well: scared shitless) when they heard Jordan Macarus and his compadres play. I'd have traded my guitar in for a monk's habit and lived a hermit's life in the Rockies, that's for sure.
One last question: how the hell is it possible, that in all those years Macarus only managed to release the Winterhawk-LP and a solo-CD called "The passage" (1994)? On the Rare Ass-/Monster Records website it states that the Strat-Wizard/Guitar God (take your pick) performs in Chicago clubs and coffee houses on a regular basis. That's a damn shame, 'cause I don't fly.
So here's my plea to all you guitar fanatics out there: even if you think "this stuff's too old and not metal anyway", don't pass up the chance of getting to know this classic in heavy rock history. Because guitarists, musical styles and trends come and go, but Jordan Macarus and Winterhawk were one of a kind and truly too good to last.
Oliver Kerkdijk
(1999/English translation of a German-language review
on the Sacred Metal-Page -
- Sacred Metal - Germany

"Winterhawk - "Revival" Lp"

I've written about Winterhawk before, in an interview with guitarist Jordan Macarus in E.C. #18 and in a (I now realize) all-too-brief review in E.C. #19. I plan on printing this same review in the E.C. book, but I also feel I can't wait any longer to spill my guts on an album that's come close to define everything I love about music.
It's funny how these things happen. I remember the day I got this album and how strange a day it was for me emotionally. My Grandmother, after a long bout with a serious illness, had passed away and her funeral had been held on a bright Saturday morning. Earlier in the week, several friends of mine and I had planned a record-buying trip to New York for that same day, not knowing, of course, what would happen with my Grandmother. When the funeral was scheduled, my parents insisted that I keep my plans and leave for my trip after the ceremony. Although I felt slightly guilty about it, I agreed. Just as we were about to walk out of my house to leave for N.Y. at about 11:00 AM, the mailman came. One thing he handed me was a large package from my buddies Phil and Dennis in Chicago. Hastily, I tossed the package on my bed and headed off for New York City to buy albums, unaware that this very parcel contained what would become my favorite album of all-time, yes, even more so than "Lonesome Crow" and "Legend."
Upon looking at "Revival," the interested observer would first be taken in by the cover, a dramatic painting framed by a deep blue background and the name "Winterhawk" proudly in white lettering across the top. Flip[ it over and it would reveal the band to be a 3 piece: Jordan Macarus - guitars, vocals; Doug Brown - bass, vocals; Scott Benes - drums. This type of line-up was much more prevalent in the '70's metal scene, with great examples like Poobah, Rush, early Thin Lizzy, etc., and it's a true omen of things to come. Another thing that should strike the obscure metal fanatic is the fact that Side Two contains only 3 songs. Those were the kids of things we used to look for, in the old days, to see if long, raging guitar solos might be evident. (Today it might only mean some inept thrash band chugging around in quasi-progressive circles for 9 minutes, and CD's make this quick-check a moot point anyway). Now you're ready to listen to this classic.
Side One begins with the generically entitled "Intro," but that's the only thing generic about it. This is a short instrumental that displays a band opening it up on all cylinders. Brown and Benes lay down a burning mid-paced-to-fast rhythm while Jordan Macarus first develops a melody, then explodes over it with a lead so breathtaking that it will have you re-cueing the tone arm to hear it again before you continue on. His style is so fluid, smooth and melodic(like vintage Blackmore meets Steve Morse) that already, a cloud forms over your once-etched-in-stone list of favorite guitarists. Next comes "Ace in the Hole," an upbeat rocker, featuring the mid-ranged vocals of Macarus. The song is a direct, straight-ahead butt-kicker and includes another flash of hot soloing. Following is "Period of Change," the first mega-epic on "Revival." The title of the song is as true a description as any, as the band weaves through a host of emotions and sounds, from heavy rock to extremely melodic, a perfect vehicle for showcasing Doug Brown's huge vocal range. Touches of Rush, early Kansas and Triumph can be heard and Jordan M. adapts his soloing style to different moods like few ever have. By the time Side One ends with the rocking "Can't See the Forest For the Trees," your list of favorite albums and guitarists has been seriously challenged. If only you could know what's in store when you flip the record over…
Side Two of "Revival" is about the most awe-inspiring 20-some minutes of hard rock you could ever hope to hear, and words can barely describe it adequately. Opening with the title cut and then the beautiful epic "Sanctuary," Winterhawk transcend the words passion and melody. The semi-acoustic sections included in both songs are simply beautiful and Brown's vocals capture all the feeling of lyrics like "Well, I'm not weary. I've healed my wounds. Time passes on and I'm still the same." Macarus wraps flowing six-string lines of fluidity around all of it, his guitar weeping quietly in the mellow parts and crying aloud like Ulysses' Sirens in the searing, heavy passages, drawing the listener in forever. Winterhawk then bring the spirit of the album into complete focus with a 10-minute tour de force that stands quite easily as my favorite piece of music of all time. "Free to Live" begins with some light picking and jamming chords by Macarus. He then sets the table for a feast with scorching section of opening leads before the number settles into it's first vocal section and Doug Brown proceeds to tear your fucking heart out. The lyrics reflect on a painful parting with a promise to return someday, and if goosebumps aren't standing proud and tall on you by the end of the chorus, you aren't alive. With this Jordan Macarus tears into the middle section of the song with what might be the most ultimate lead guitar solo ever. His instrument becomes a roaring lion one moment and a sweet violin the next and all of it makes perfect sense while still coming straight from the soul. Finally, Brown steps in once more and takes you on a last trip to the fountain of emotion before the band ties it up in a powerful ending.
I always thought it would be very difficult for me to say that any one album in the greatest ever recorded. I am, however, 100% confident in lauding Winterhawk's "Revival" with that praise and if I could take any single record with me to a desert island, this would be it. Magnificent.
- Ray Dorsey (Enlightened Chaos)
- Enlightened Chaos Zine - USA

"Winterhawk - "Revival" CD"

A creation of Rich Metzger (the drummer who left the band before the first line-up was completed!) and Jordan Macarus, Winterhawk released their debut Lp five years after their forming. But, even before the release of "Revival", the band's name was already popular and that helped them to play as a support band next to big names such as Steppenwolf, Black Oak Arkansas, etc. In this Lp also, the guitar plays the main role, as the frenzy hard rock begins with the first nots of "Intro." The singer sings in high scales, something that refreshes their sound. My favorite song is titled "Period of Change", while "Free to Live", "Revival", "Ace in the Hole" are really good coompositions. The mastermind of the band, Jordan Macarus, apart from guitar playing, he is also testing his vocal abilities in two songs: "Ace in the hole" and the live version of "Hammer and the Axe." The last one is a fine song that reminds a lot of the legendary Rory Gallagher. Also, the songs "Fallen Dinosaur" and "Elijah" come from some later projects that Jordan formed. The "Revival" CD is a fine release that never received a really wide attention and it is recommended to all hard rockers who search for something old but good. P.S. Jordan has already formed his new solo band, name Jordac, and already released "The Passage" CD in 1994. (-Dimitris Starakis) - from Metal Invader #32 - Greece

"Winterhawk - "Revival" CD"

There are some times,that words are very poor to describe music. Having to deal with this sacred album,I really wouldn’t like to write much, ‘cause no matter what I write it’s not gonna do justice to the musical content of this masterpiece.This album was originally issued in 1982 from the band’s own label Lamda Records.Winterhawk were from Chicago and the leader,guitarist,main writer(and GOD!) of the band was Jordan Macarus.The original on vinyl has now become one of the most sought after hard rock LP’s and although it’s not as rare as other monsters like Legend,Full Moon,Sorcery etc. it rarely turns up anymore.The re-issue of Winterhawk is a great idea and we should praise Dennis once again for bringing to light another timeless album.The original album has 7 songs while this re-issue features 3 bonus tracks.In this review I won’t follow the vinyl song-order but the CD one.The CD kicks off with an amazing,straight,imposing guitar intro called ‘Intro’.The guitar riff is quite imposing I must say,but to be honest,it is only a minute sample of what is going to follow next.By the time your CD player displays 3:41 get ready for a trip to the world of freedom with Macarus and his mates the perfect guides.The style of Winterhawk can be described as pure hard rock with melodic unstoppable guitar solos(divine conceptions) and a vocalist quite reminiscent of Geddy Lee.‘Sanctuary’ comes next and yes it’s one helluva composition with many touches of magic.Just listen to the way the structure of the song completely changes into a highly emotional overflow of melodies that accompany the mourning but yet very proud vocals of Doug Brown in perfect harmony or listen to Brown singing for the last time ‘How could it feel’ and then the guitar solo of Macarus that completely blows the listener away giving you the answer.The magic goes on!Nothing is incidental in this album;just watch the guitar theme while Brown sings ‘Well,I’m not weary,I’ve healed my wounds,time passes on and I’m still the same....’.This is music poetry to say the least!Macarus is a genius.For sure one of the most inventive guitar players of all time.What differenciates him from many other hard rock guitar players is that he uses his guitar like a wizard his spells.He casts them to the listener and spreads dopes of magic with his flawless playing.Track 3,comes next and prepare for the first major shock that you’re going to experience while listening to it.This song tears me into pieces every time I hear it.It’s a simple,yet majestic ode to living free and could have been probably the perfect soundtrack to the classic Terence Malick’s film ‘Badlands’.The guitar work of Macarus is once again seminal and displays some awesome melodies,followed by the solid or pounding-in times- rhythm section of Scott Benes and Brown who also plays the bass throughout the album.Believe me my friends,when ‘Period of change’ seems to have finished then Macarus comes back with one of my fave guitar solos of all time commanding all the hair of my body to stand up!If you don’t fall dead after that solo then I’m sure that you are dead(f)!After ‘Period of change’ is ‘Can’t See the forest for the trees’,the most simple composition of ‘Revival’ but still a very good hard rocker written by Brown,with classic rock n’ roll lyrics and some nice fretwork from Macarus(I’ll keep repeating how fucking good is Macarus until the end of this review ‘till you decide to buy the CD!).The title-track that follows is another monumentary composition that deserves a place in the hall of fame of the best hard rock(and not only) songs ever.Macarus explains us in the beginning of the song why and how he plays so damn enchanting and charming: ‘Well,it’s all for rock n’ roll,that I have sold my soul’.The vocals of Brown are astonishing once again,especially if we focus on the way he jumps from the lower to the higher scales or in the way he simply sings ‘Well,I’ve got to live my dreams,even though it’s not the way it seems......or will I just fade away..........I feel I’m getting high’.What an epic is this!I’d better not refer to the time when Macarus plays another one of those out of this earth solos that transfer you to other times and remote you from reality.The next song is ‘Ace in the hole’ and Macarus takes on the lead vocals and proves that he can sing quite good too.This song is memorable for its great ending with the interesting bass/guitar theme and the amazing chorus ‘Let’em call you bluff....we’ll be an ace in the hole’ that is quite wrathful in the true sense of the word.I admit I’m in a rush to write about the song after ‘Ace in the hole’,otherwise I would have written more words about each one of the previous songs.If you have made a list with your best songs and solos of all time and you haven’t listened to ‘Free to live’ that follows,then it’s time to reconsider your thoughts on the best and more inventive solo ever.‘Free to live’ is a song that will never be repeated.A timeless master work,that to be honest,I don’t like listening to very often because I want to preserve the majestic impression of that collosal composition the first time I heard it.Even Uli Jon Roth himself would be fascinated by that song,so take my word:Even if you don’t want to buy this album then at least try to find that song by any means.IT KILLS!!!!Is this the ultimate track ever written?After the verse ‘That’s when I’ll know if I’ve done you wrong’ get ready to fly to catch the wind!A music torrent bursts out full of imposing,extra terrestial,destructive solos that will lead you to the greatest orgasm you ever had.Of course it would be unfair to praise the solos of that song only, ‘cause the main part of the song is superb too!Another hymn to freedom,another evidence that a talented musician was born and that to travel to far off lands all you need is six magic strings.Throughout this review,I keep repeating the word ‘magic’.In my opinion,the perfect description of Winterhawk’s style is ‘magic guitar based hard rock’.Winterhawk really managed to build/create a wall of emotions that is virtually unbreakable.The three bonus songs featured on this CD re-issue are: ‘Fallen Dinosaur’(nice melancholic instrumental), ‘Elijah’ and a heavy metal epic anthem coming from the ‘70s,called ‘Hammer and the Axe’.I think it’s astonishing that ‘Hammer and the axe’ dates back in 1979 and is a live recording.Musically,it is a tremendous composition,very heavy for the time,with epic lyrics like ‘...the axeman swings his blade,unmask the face of freedom,the hammer head rolls away...’ and breath taking rhythm and guitar breaks.Unfortunately,I haven’t listened to any demos of Winterhawk or any live tapes with Macarus jamming with Rex Carrol from Fierce Heart or simply playing live but I can tell you for sure that if you consider yourselves to be hard rock freaks and you don’t have this album in your collection,then you are inexcusable.As my friend Greg ‘Heavy Load’ says,this album is as important as women for men!Jordan has now a new band called ‘Jordac’ with one CD out and another in the works,but I haven’t listened to it yet.To buy this CD send $12 to Monster Records(see last page or advertisement for the adress) and offer yourself the ultimate music experience! (-Manos Koufakis) - Steel Conjuring #3 - Greece

"Winterhawk - "Revival" CD"

Originally recorded, and sort of released, in 1982. But it's first now that this album has got a proper distribution. Winterhawk is a classic US hard rock band. This album is like a combination of Budge and Moxy. A good album where the song "Period Of Change" is the no. 1. (4 out of 6 stars) - Scream #46 - Norway

"Jordan Macarus - "Balancing Act" CD"

This is one of those albums that has to grow on you. "Balancing Act" by the Jordan Macarus Band is a good album. But the first couple listens, it doesn't stand out. There is some amazing guitar work on it that is noticeable from the onset. But it doesn't grab you. Slowly, though, it begins to seep into your subconscious and you find yourself listening to it over again and starting to get into it.
Jordan's song-writing is from the old school of the rock singer-songwriter. The songs themselves are well-done with some excellent musicianship displayed. The lackluster vocals are what cause the album to be a slow starter. Jordan's voice is not bad and he can sing, especially on the title track, but it's different and takes getting used to. After a while, you accept them and start to truly enjoy the album.
Whatever may be lacking in the vocals Jordan provides is more than made up for with his thrilling guitar work. He's one of those few guitarists that make those strings truly come alive. Put a mic in Jordan's hand and you'll be entertained. Put a guitar in his hands and you'll be moved. Nowhere on the album is this more evident than on "Trial By Fire." An instrumental that conveys more meaning and emotion than any of the tracks with lyrics.
Not that Jordan doesn't have anything to say unless he's playing his guitar. The album is filled with thought-provoking lyrics. The strongest of which are found on the title track, such as: "You can lead them to the picture, but you cannot make them see just what you see." But it's the music that truly shines on the album. With Jordan's guitar backed up by some impressive players, the tracks have a quiet intensity that can't be ignored. (Reviewed By Eric J. Olsen)


2006 - CFM "Face in the Mirror"
2003 - Winterhawk "Wind From The Sun"
2002 - Winterhawk "There And Back Again"
2000 - Jordan Macarus "Balancing Act"
1998 - Winterhawk "Revival"
1994 - Jordac "The Passage"



Winterhawk started in 1977. With a few player changes over the years, Winterhawk is still performing. Two of the original players (Jordan and Steve Tsokatos) along with long time collaborators Chris Mazur and Steve Vanaria complete the live band. Winterhawk recorded Revival (1982 on vinyl, 1998 on CD), There and Back Again (released 2002 from a Live concert in 1978) and Wind from the Sun (released 2003 from 1992 recordings). These recordings have helped to develop a cult following the world over. "The Passage" was the second official release from guitarist Jordan Macarus. Released on compact disc in 1995 on Jordan's own label, this album was recorded live at the Metro in Chicago, IL. The "Balancing Act," is a combination of live and studio cuts from 1999 and 2000. CFM is Guitarist / Songwriter Jordan Macarus' Solo Project. His sixth recording, this one runs the gamut from acoustic to rock and blues, filled with the breathtaking leads we are accustomed to hearing from this astonishing guitarist. This disc is mostly studio with one Winterhawk Live cut (Hole in the Sky). Fifteen musicians appear on this CD, including Bobby Scumaci and Mark Ott from the Dave Mason Band, Geoffery Lowe, Brian Faulkner and 1978 Winterhawk member, Steve Brown . This disc is important musically, socially, and politically. Jordan's next solo release is scheduled for later this year. You can catch Jordan Live with a number of bands, including Winterhawk, The Radio Hour Cutaway, CFM and others.