Album Review:Black Sabbath-The End(2016)

Black Sabbath released an amazing album in 2013 called 13. This was the album Black Sabbath fans longed for. When rumours of a Sabbath reunion started forming we all wished the four original members would put out an album. Well, for many reasons Bill Ward was not included. Fans and critics alike felt there was no way they could create that magic again. The critics and fans (including myself) were wrong. Even though I miss Bill’s jazzy freestyle, the drumming by studio fill-in Brad Wilk (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave, The Last Internationale)  was handled expertly. He does not have Bill’s style, but makes the songs his own, and sounds awesome. From some of the reports about Bill’s diminished playing ability, maybe we are better off.

Fast forward to early 2015. Ozzy announces that Black Sabbath will be working on a new album, and will be doing a tour. Yes!!!!!!! Then late in 2015 Ozzy says there will still be a tour but no new album. He is quoted as saying “People aren’t really interested in hearing new stuff.” I beg to differ Ozzy. Tony Iommi apparently had enough riffs for a new album, was working on them in the studio, but was quoted as saying “Geezer didn’t want to do a new album.” (Geezer must have been too busy telling kids to get off his lawn.) Then in early 2016, Black Sabbath announce there will be an exclusive, limited edition ‘The End’ cd only available at The End tour concerts. I saw Sabbath twice on the 13 tour, but this will most likely be the last time I ever see them live, and the chance to buy that new cd made going to the concert a must.

We got to the concert early(concert review in the works) to line up for the cd. I wanted to make sure I got one since some of the shows so far were cancelled, and some early shows did not get the cd. After about 20 minutes I got to the front of the line. I was shocked at the price. $30 for a 8 song cd! I guess the exclusivity of it made it worth it. Also tons of people all around me were buying $50 t shirts and $250 hockey jerseys, so my cd price didn’t seem quite as bad. I listened to it on the way home from the concert. Our drive from the concert is just under 1 hour. I assumed it would finish long before we got home. Wrong. 54:18 worth of music. That is roughly double the length I would consider an EP. So even though it is called an EP elsewhere, I will call this an album. 8 songs, the first 4 are outtakes from the 13 album recordings, and the last 4 are live recordings from the 13 tour. Just a thought guys. How about a vinyl version, or even a cassette. Anyway, here is the review.

Season Of the Dead – The first few seconds of the song remind me of Follow Your Heart by Triumph but then the doom and gloom kick in. With a beat that would have fit in nicely on an 80’s thrash metal song, this song has your head banging after the first 30 seconds, then the song kicks it up a gear in the middle section to a near Foo Fighters pace. It does slow down to doom levels near the end to remind us of where that genre began. (There are no songs off this album online so the below video is a cover, just to give you an idea. The original is much more awesome and loud though)

Cry All Night – This is another unique Sabbath song. It has a bit of the early 70’s, a bit of 13, and a really cool tone to Tony’s guitar I can only describe as sounding like a tiger roaring through a talkbox as Tony plays on.

Take Me Home – Brad Wilk and Tony really shine here. Brad pounds the drums into submission constantly through the entire song while Tony lays down some sweet riffs. Geezer shows flashes of bass slapping brilliance and Ozzy belts out the vocals. The part that threw me for a complete loop hits just before the 3 minute mark. The sound of a flamenco guitar in a metal song is a real rarity. Tony went somewhat in this direction for Laguna Sunrise, but it is more pronounced and spectacular here. I absolutely love flamenco guitar, so the combination of flamenco and Sabbath are really heart warming for me.

Isolated Man – Rhythmic song with Ozzy singing a slight shade deeper. The real fun begins about 2 minutes in when the singing stops and the instruments take over for a while.

God Is Dead (Live Sydney, Australia 4/27/13) – Seemless transition between the last studio song and this one. In fact if I had not known, I might have thought this was a version recorded in the studio with a bit of an echo effect added. That is until a very slight vocal miscue from Ozzy about half way through. This is fine in my books. I want a live recording with all the warts and bruises left in the mix. If I had missed this the crowd noise near the end would have given it away. It really is a testament to a band that has been around for over 45 years that can still give a near perfect live performance that sound like a studio recording.

Under the Sun (Live Auckland, New Zealand 4/20/13) – I have to give Tommy Clufetos big props here. I have seen him perform live many times before, and always thought he was great. He does his best Animal (R.I.P.) impersonation here, and along with Tony he owns this song.

End Of The Beginning (Live Hamilton, Ontario Canada 4/11/14) – Before I got to the concert I checked out what songs were on the cd. The fact that the last 2 songs were recorded in Hamilton, Ontario and that I may have been recorded as part of the crowd noise made this cd a must have. This song was one of the best songs on 13, and Ozzy was really trying to get the crowd fired up. He was as energetic as Ozzy could have been in 2014. The song was played in a creepy, droaning manner. That is until about 3 minutes in when Ozzy tells us to go wild. I remember the crowd almost jumping and head banging in unison. At around the same point Tony`s guitar tone takes a little change of direction. It almost has a Zakk Wylde tone. I didn`t remember this from the studio version, but when I listened to that song again it was there. I really need to revisit 13. If this had been the last song on the album the last words from the band would have been `We love you all. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.“ To me that would have been fitting.

Age Of Reason – (Live Hamilton, Ontario, Canada 4/11/14) – Before the song starts Ozzy addresses the audience by saying “We`re going to do a song off the 13 album now. But I just want to take this opportunity to thank you for helping to get it to number 1 in Canada.“ It really says a lot when a metal band that is mostly made up of 60 something year old guys and has been around for over 45 years can put out an album that goes to number 1, not just in Canada but in many countries around the world. As for why they recorded at the show in Hamilton, I think I read somewhere that the reason they chose to include 2 songs from the setlist at the Hamilton, Ontario show is that there was some guy with a goofy nickname that starts with a B that rocked it so hard, they had to include two songs with his cheering. Maybe not. After seeing the band there twice now, I have changed my mind about the Hamilton venue. They used to be a distant second choice behind a Toronto show. My guess is they have done many things to improve the acoustics in recent years, and the inclusion of two songs here is proof they have succeeded. Ozzy begins the song by chanting “Cuckoo. Cuckoo.“ You are right Ozzy. We are Cuckoo. `How you people in the back doing?“ Well, we`re at a Black Sabbath concert, so pretty awesome.

I read another review in which the author liked this album much better than 13. I would not go that far, however, it may be. I really, really dug 13. If that was the last recording Black Sabbath did, they could be proud. The first 4 songs on this album were left off 13. I have no reason of knowing why. They are all awesome. The live tracks are great. Some very minor glitches here and there, but that is how a live recording should sound. If this is really the end (it looks more and more every day like it is), I can be a happy Sabbath fan that I got a piece of history, got to see possibly the best band ever go out on their own terms, so I guess, I am ok with that.

I should take some points off for the price. Also the fact there is no vinyl or cassette options. Also, forcing fans to buy a concert ticket to enjoy the last album. For not including a bunch more songs. For having live songs that are not even on the setlist of The End tour. However, this review is strictly about the album and the songs included.

10/10

 

 

 

 

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Album Review:Monster Truck-Sittin’ Heavy(2016)

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This album is the one I could not wait to get. I had to make sure I got it the day it came out. I ordered the coloured version, and was not disappointed. With 2 big, heavy slabs of green and white marbled vinyl, even if they did not sound awesome(not likely), at least they would look awesome.

So let us, as Haywire once said “Drop the needle”.

Why Are You Not Rocking? – I always ask myself this question. Mere seconds into the song, I realize I am rocking, and so is Monster Truck. The song starts off with the spoken words” All right. Good to go.” Then pounding drums and some amazing fuzzy guitar. The chords here are enough to make any sludge metal shredder jealous. “Rock and Roll might save your life. It might save your life tonight.” No truer words have ever been spoken.

Don’t Tell Me How To Live – The album single has been heard here in Canada on the radio for a while now. Even though I have heard it many times, I still love it every time. This to me is the sign of a great song. It never gets old.

She’s A Witch – More fuzzy guitar to begin this song. This seems like a bit of a new direction for Jeremy Widerman. His guitar work has always been top notch, but adding that fuzz that I love has put him over the top. As I said in a previous album review, I have a thing for witches. Just making a song about a witch has me hooked, but the vocals and the instrumentation keep me on the line.

For The People – Ian Thornley has a guest spot on this song. Most Canadians will know him, but for the uninformed he is the lead singer of the bands Big Wreck and Thornley. He has a ton of cred in our music industry, and it says something for a band to be able to lure him in. His slide guitar lends well to the theme of this song, which has a bit of Southern Rock and maybe even a tiny shred of Country mixed with Classic Rock. If Steve Earle, Ry Cooder and the Doobie Brothers had done a song together, this is how it may have sounded.

Black Forest – Side B of the first platter starts off with thunder rolls. Sorry Garth Brooks fans, I mean actual thunder sounds. Then Brandon Bliss shows us how an organ can be an integral part of a hard rock song. Not in an annoying, Ray Manzarek kind of way, either. Light tapping of the cymbals chime in for a neat mix, then the guitar starts to wail. Jon Harveys` vocals here have a bit of a Chris Cornell sound to them, and just enough of a change to make the listeners ears perk just a bit. The vocals aside, the song has a later Soundgarden feel to it.

Another Man`s Shoes – I am not sure if it was intentional or not but the song has a little of Sweet Mountain River to it. Either way, it is a good thing because that was a great song. This song doesn`t have the instant charm of the aforementioned song, however, it does have something. As in great guitar, pounding drums, and powerful vocals.

Things Get Better – Wait a minute. I know that piano intro. Guest pianist Anthony Carone must be a big Dolly Parton fan as he seems to have found a way to mix 9 to 5 into a rock song. Well played fine sir. A few seconds in when the guitar and drums sound off you know this is no country music/soundtrack song though. This is a rocker through and through. The repeating chorus is a highlight of this song.

The Enforcer – Starts off with hockey goal horn. The title referring to the players on the ice whose job it is to protect the smaller players. “Before you drop the gloves, say bye to those you love, and those teeth you remember.“ The background chants in this song actually give the impression of hearing a cheering crowd at a sporting event. I guarantee this song will be soon heard in hockey arenas worldwide. It really is a good romp.

To The Flame – Steve Kiely begins the second disc by pounding the drums into submission while the guitar wails. The slower vocal delivery emphasize the fear and desperation of the person being hunted down in the song.

Midnight (Bonus) – As if the coloured splatter deliciousness that is the vinyl lp isn`t enough to shell out the extra money, then the fact that this song is only available in this format should help make your decision for you. It is a true rocker, and the guitar work here does seem to be just a little different than others on the album.

New Soul – Rhythmic drumming help the listener know exactly how and when to bang your head along. Make sure you are in welcome company when listening, because not everyone will welcome your air guitar hero impersonation.

Enjoy The Time – This song features a who`s who of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Terra Lightfoot and Brad Germain (formerly of Marble Index) team up for the background vocals here. Since Hamilton is the home of Monster Truck it is nice to see they chose to include fellow Hamiltonians. The keyboard work in this song is supreme. It is a throwback to the heydays of the 1970`s. It`s an amazing album closer, with all parts blending into a really, really great song. I am kind of sad to get to the end. I guess all I can do is play it again. The album closes and it started with spoken word, basically saying “It`s Over. That`s It”

I am so glad to finally see a complete Monster Truck album. The previous EP`s and album were great, but had just a tiny bit of good songs mixed with mostly great. This album is awesome from start to finish. I am happy to see them moving upward to eventually being a worldwide phenomenon, even if the days of me seeing them in a sweaty bar with 100 or so people are long gone. Welcome to the big leagues Monster Truck.

10/10

 

 

 

 

 

Album Review:Clutch-Psychic Warfare(2015)

This album came out in October 2015, but only on cd. I wanted the vinyl so I waited (not so) patiently for mine to arrive.

The Affidavit – Why don’t you just start at the beginning now

X-Ray Visions – After a very brief spoken word to begin the album this song grabs you by the throat and says if you don’t bob your head up and down, I’m gonna kick your bitch ass.

Firebirds! – This song brings me back to my teens when I had lots of money to burn on fast cars. Firebirds were the car of choice. I usually performed the Triple T. T tops, tire smoke and tunes. “But I don’t own a Firebird, perhaps this Datsun will do.” Umm No. “Firebirds! Energy weapons! Both of these things are interesting to me. I don’t care, how you get them. I need them both and need them urgently.” Umm yes.

A Quick Death In Texas – Definite Texas flavour. I had to look to see if one of the Vaughan family members had a hand in this, or perhaps ZZ Top. A warning song to all those men that mess with another man’s wife.

Sucker For The Witch – Wicked, wicked bass rules this song. I have a little bit of an obsession for witches as well. Even if it goes my Catholic upbringing. I am also a sucker for a song that salutes Stevie Nicks, and absolutely kicks some serious ass.

Your Love Is Incarceration – A little bit of funk is never a bad thing. There is a line in the song about “30 days in the hole.” This is not a shout out to Humble Pie, however there definitely is an early 70’s vibe to this song. If Humble Pie had decided to recruit the guys from Funkadelic to record a song, it might have sounded something like this.

Before I flip the record over, I have to listen to this side again. It really is that good.

Doom Saloon – Guitar strums. They fill up this song. One in the foreground and one sounding far away.

Our Lady Of Electric Light – Our lady of awesome, electrified music more like.

Noble Savage – Pounding drums and screaming vocal chants. ‘Unapologetic lifer for rock and roll.” Is Clutch singing about me?

Behold The Colossus – A cool tune about Gargoyle’s that are pissed off, and won’t take it any more. The guitar work here is especially tantalizing.

Decapitation Blues – A little zombie tune never hurt anyone

Son Of Virginia – Like kind of a mellow Godsmack song. The words seem to have a cryptic meaning with a Devil Dog seen on All Saints Day.

This album was on a ton of top ten lists for 2015. I got it in 2016, but it may qualify this year again.

If you are from Australia, here is a message for you.

As for the album

10/10

 

 

Album Review:Diana Krall-Wallflower(2015)

I have just gotten into Diana Krall in the last year or so. Her voice is so smoky, she is beautiful, and she is married to Elvis Costello. Talk about hitting the trifecta. This album is an album of cover songs, except for If I Take You Home Tonight, which Paul McCartney wrote but never released. She released it here with permission. The album came in 3 versions. The regular version (same on cd and vinyl) with 12 tracks, the Deluxe edition with 16 tracks, and the Complete Sessions with 20 songs. I always say go big, or go home so I got the 20 track version.

California Dreamin’ – Smoky, sexy, raspy. Call it what you will, her voice will make anyone sit up and take notice. When the bass kicks in, I can almost see the collective musicians in the stoner metal genre stare at the speakers in disbelief. No wonder Christian McBride has won 4 Grammys, and leads 4 bands.

Desperado – I had kind of a sombre moment when this song started. I felt a wave of emotion roll over me. I feel really embarrassed to have not given Glenn Frey his just dues, and I was paying the price. This was the song that solidified the songwriting team of Glenn Frey and Don Henley. It is an amazing song, and I can think of no one better that Diana to do it justice. Dianna has subtle nuances and voice pitch changes that allow her to make it sound like there is more than one vocalist. But it is all her.

Superstar – Who knew a song about a groupie could be so romantic and touching.

Alone Again (Naturally) (duet with Michael Buble) – The combination of these two amazing talents should push this song into deep outer space. The song is about being left at the alter, and wanting to end one’s own life, but forgive me if I can’t stop smiling. The sound travelling through my ears can only have this effect.

Wallflower(featuring Blake Mills) – WOW. Bob Dylan is an amazing talent, but he has nothing on this lady. Holy hell is she awesome on this song. I get goosebumps every time I hear it. Kudos to Blake Mills for some wicked guitar playing as well. A MA ZING. 2015 was a good year for him. Not just this song, but producer of the year for Alabama Shakes- Sound And Color.

If I Take You Home Tonight – Written by Paul McCartney. No 4 words in music better express the potential for a great song. Sorry you left this off of your album Paul. Your loss is Diana’s gain.

I Can’t Tell You Why – Another Eagles cover. There is no mistake. They really knew how to put a great song together. This album almost seems like a fitting Glenn Frey tribute.

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word – “What have I got to do to make you love me.” Just keep singing like that. That’s it.

Operator(That’s Not The Way It Feels) – Operator. Could you help me place this call? I need to tell Diana how awesome she is

I’m Not In Love – I am!!!!

Feels Like Home(duet with Bryan Adams) – Like many Canadians I am quite sick of hearing Bryan Adams every day on the radio, but this song is fresh, and his raspy voice matches almost perfectly with Diana’s. My favourite song with him in it since the Reckless album first came out over 30 years ago.

Don’t Dream It’s Over – Thank goodness I bought the Complete Sessions or it would be over

In My Life – Piano and a sexy, raspy female singer. Another example where Diana sounds like there is more than one vocalist. Is there anything better for a Beatles cover. I think not.

Yeh Yeh(duet with Georgie Fame) – I say YEAH YEAH

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word (live) – This woman is so awesome, I can not tell her live performance from her studio song. I must see her live.

Wallflower(live) – See above description

A Case Of You – My favourite part is the snippet “Oh Canada”. I would love to see Diana sing our anthem.

If You Could Read My Mind(duet with Sarah McLaughlin) – This song is one of the main reasons I wanted the Complete Sessions. I LOVE Gordon Lightfoot. I LOVE this song. Goosebumps baby, goosebumps. The ladies do it justice. I am not disappointed. My repeat button is going to break.

Everybody’s Talkin'(duet with Vince Gill) – I am not a big fan of the background music in this song. It sounds like bad, Hawaiian karaoke. The vocals are good though. One song out of 20 that is not awesome is a pretty good percentage though.

Heart Of Gold – Great guitar and violin here. Then there are the vocals. If Neil Young’s version is a perfect 10, this is a 9.99999999.

I don’t know if I have ever heard a better cover album. She chose some lofty songs to emulate, and did them all justice.

9.95/10

 

 

 

 

 

Album Review:Megadeth-Dystopia(2016)

 

Before I review the actual album, I will be honest. I have not bought a new Megadeth album since the early 1990’s, when I bought Countdown To Extinction. I loved that album (still do) but for whatever reason new Megadeth was never on my radar again until now. This new album seemed like the one that would get me back in the fold. There seemed to be a buzz about it, and there were rumours about a reunion of the Rust In Peace lineup. That never happened, but by then I was on board.

Also, before the review, some information about the album packaging. I bought the Deluxe Edition. This comes with the cd and virtual reality goggles in a special package. I spent a little extra for this version. I kind of figured it might be a little gimmicky but tried it out. WOW. DOUBLE WOW. This thing is awesome. After you download an app to your Apple or Android phone you fit it in the goggles and enjoy. There is an interview segment that the band answers pre-selected questions from fans, and a 5 song mini concert. Everything was in 360 degrees, so you could turn around, see the cameramen, watch the drummer, guitarists, bassist etc. It is the closest thing you will ever get to actually being on stage during a Megadeth concert. It is absolutely wicked, and brilliant. There is also a cd only, vinyl,  Japanese cd version, and a Best Buy exclusive deluxe version only available in USA with extra songs, but I wanted the album right away, and with the low value of our dollar, I bought the best version we have up here. Now on to the review.

The Threat Is Real – Sacred chants and bongos begin this song off until what we have all been waiting for kicks in. Wailing guitars. When Dave Mustaine sings we instantly know what band this is without even looking at the cover. His voice is unique. I love it, but I can see how it would be like nails on a chalkboard to some. The song has a great beat, with pounding drums, and screaming guitars. Great song to start the album off.

Dystopia – Starting off more like melodic rock than metal. The new guitarist, Kiko Loureiro (from Angra) shows us why he was welcomed into the band with open arms. He is awesome, that’s why. New drummer Chris Adler (Lamb of God) is no slouch either, and he pounds away with welcome abandon.

Fatal Illusion – Fuzzy, distorted, almost out of tune guitar starts this one off in a haze. Then the drums pound you into submission, while the guitar shrieks and moans. The bass kicks in for around 10 seconds of chunky, funky goodness. Warning: if listening to this song for the first time in your car, the high pitched warning beepers are not from behind your dash, it is from the song. Aggressive, super fast drum rolls and high pitched guitar squeals end this one off on a high note.

Death From Within – This song starts a little mellow but after about 30 seconds I begin to smile. It sounds a lot like Sweating Bullets, which is one of my favourite Megadeth tracks. Moving forward by looking back is often a good thing for a metal band. The back and forth vocals between Mustaine and the rest of the band is a nice touch.

Bullet To The Brain – Army marching band style drumming start this one off. Unfortunately no parade I have ever seen included sweet, metal driving guitars though. Dave’s voice is much mellower here. He sings it lower and slower to begin with, but eventually his inner screamer needs to be set free. The dilemna will be what to do with your hands. Going from punching the air chanting “No, No, No”, then air drumming, and air guitar. My hands got a work out from that one. I can see this being an awesome chant for the audience to sing along.

Post American World – This song sounds a little like Symphony of Destruction, which is awesome in my book. The sound is awesome. One of the best, if not the best on the album. I have a little bit of a nitpick with the lyrics and title. The album cover artwork (which is brilliantly done by Brent Elliot) shows a post-apocalyptic world. “This planet’s become one spinning disaster”…..and ….”Why cower to all those that oppose the American world.” C’mon Dave. You know the world is not America right. No matter how much you may think that it revolves around your country, it actually revolves around the sun. Another point about the placement of the song title on the cd jewel case. There are little nibs (dimples, tits). Not sure what to call them left by the injection molding equipment used to make the jewel case that block some of the lettering in this song. In 2016, I do not know why this is acceptable. Some of my cd cases have them and some do not. This was the first time I have noticed them, and now they kind of bug me.

Poisonous Shadows – Some soothing acoustic guitar to cleanse the palette, then a single drum pound. Shredding and more pounding ensue. The song has a similar beat to Sober. Even non Tool fans have to admit that was a great song, with a driving beat. Dave sings this is a more subdued tone, he almost has an Alice Cooper like quality here. The mix of angelic, growling background singers add a nice touch. The rolling drums and wailing guitars bring this one over the top.

Conquer Or Die! – More acoustic guitars, this time with a bit of flamenco finger picking. I loves me some finger picking I say. The drums and guitar take over this song, and they do such a fine job of it Dave doesn’t even feel like spoiling it, so no need for lyrics. There is a monstrous, robotic voice over at the end in case drums and guitar are not enough for you, and the only thing added for extra oomph is the odd church bell chiming in.

Lying In State – Full on thrash metal song here harkens back the ’80’s heydays. Dave tells us to forget his new found softer vocals. He’s going all out here. A little more of the Symphony of Destruction snarls mixed with new guitar riffs make this a near perfect blend of yesterday and today.

The Emperor – This song sounds like the most modern sounding Megadeth song ever. More like fast, hard driving rock than metal. It sounds to me like something Dave Grohl had input in. Foo Fighters meets Megadeth. The awesomeness (and egos) would be too much for any building to contain to ever allow this to happen though.

Foreign Policy – Squealing guitar starts off. Then more fast beats. It almost has a punk feel to it. No wonder. It is a punk song. In fact it is a cover of a Fear song. Fast, screaming, repeating the same lines over and over. Beating you over the head until you either get it, or get lost.

A really great all around album. Who knew Dave could focus his inner hard rocker or punk self. The elements of earlier albums are mixed with modern touches to make a Megadeth album to be proud of. Obviously it is my favourite since Countdown To Extinction, but I have read many other huge Megadeth fans say the same thing, so it may be true. I may even go out on a limb and say it is even better. Does anyone know a good flak jacket manufacturer?

As for the packaging and special added features this edition gets a 10/10.

As for the album itself, a solid 9.8/10

 

 

 

 

 

Album Review:Jim Dead & The Doubters-Pray For Rain(2015)

Over the years I have purchased a ton of what I like to call a “friend cd”. You know what I’m talking about. Some person you went to school with, played hockey with, or worked with. They would always invite you to their show, or tell you about their new “band” and hint about the new cd. I would always shell out the money, knowing full well it might be ok at best. I have had a few pleasant surprises here and there, but mostly the music was exactly as expected. Poor quality production and sound. Bad singing and amateur playing. I would always lie through my teeth when asked directly about what I thought. Either ‘You were great” if they were close to average, or “You were really good”, if they were really crap.

In this review I will begin with a preface:

I do know J from the band through this blogging world. He has an amazing site. Here is a link https://resurrectionsongs.wordpress.com/

I will never lie about something I post on my site. I won’t gloss it over to make that person feel better. I would rather not post about it at all. I would hate to have someone shell out hard earned money on something based on my say, listen to it and be able to tell they got snowed. It sets a bad precedent, and taints all of my reviews.

As for the band: Stuart Begley is on lead guitar, Frankie Coia is on bass, Tommy Clark is on drums, and J(Jim Dead) handles the vocals and guitar. They all hail from Scotland. So on to the album itself.

Wooden Kimono – Slow groove begins this one. It has a bit of that “chugging” associated with a desert rock song, minus the Sabbathy sludge. It has an infectious beat, and J’s vocals suit the song nicely. A great opener to set the tone for the rest of the record.

May The Road Rise – Wicked guitar work begin this song off, and continues throughout the entire song. The drums and bass boom, while J flashes hints of his inner Glenn Danzig.

Pray For Rain – Tommy Clark shines on this one. The drums pound with a fury not seen since the heydays of the 70’s. Arena rock drumming may have fallen out of style, but they are welcome on any cd I listen to.

Holding The Line – Has a bit of a Texas blues feel to it. One city that is on my bucket list to visit is Austin, Texas. I would want to spend a month listening to great tunes. This tune would fit right in nicely.

Lovesick Blues – Have you ever wondered what it would have been like if Glenn Danzig had done a collaboration with Alice in Chains or Stone Temple Pilots? If he had, the song might have sounded something like this.

Of note is the gap in the song listing on the inner liner here. Sort of a throwback to the days of albums having 2 sides. Nice touch. Maybe the music is planned for vinyl or perhaps cassette. Hmmm.

Trains – Short but sweet song. What it lacks in lyrical content, it makes up for in musicianship.

Crows On The Wire – The album takes a complete u-turn here. Sounding more like it was recorded in Nashville than Glasgow. It has a nice country feel, without that annoying twang. I get a bit of a Blake Shelton vibe, and a feel good country toe tapping beat. I can only assume(you know what happens when you assume) the guitars used were unique for this song. They have a definite country sound that suits the song perfectly.

Home – Quiet guitar and cryptic lyrics begin this song off.  The guitar work reminds me of Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. The vocals have a bit of a Johnny Cash meets Leonard Cohen vibe. J doesn’t sound like either singer, but the song comes across like a well laid out story. For me Johnny and Leonard are best when they pull the listener in with haunting, almost whispering lyrics. J does this as well, and as the story unfolds, his voice rises to a snarl and further commands our attention.

You Coulda Said – Guitar, drums and bass in perfect harmony here. I think though that Frankie turned his bass amp up a little when the others weren’t looking. Also, Tommy’s cymbals may have been due for repair after the punishment they endured here. The background lyrics here harmonize perfectly, and J must have needed a lozenge after this recording. His voice barks out the lyrics to the point of vocal chord strain. Pain for him but pleasure for us. The listener is rewarded with a raw, powerful vocal performance.

I’m Not Lost – J strums while Stuart makes his guitar wail like a banshee. Tommy bangs the skins with wild abandon like a long lost John Bonham recording. Thankfully Frankie kept his bass turned up so as not to be lost in the mix. A little more of a 90’s vibe to the vocals. A nice blend of the best of the 70’s with the best of the grunge era. A really good song to leave the album on. It is almost 7 minutes long, but it doesn’t feel like too much. It should keep us happy until the next release.

This is definitely not a “friends cd”. This is a seriously great album. The mixing, mastering and production quality are all top notch(shout out to Tommy Duffin, James Duffin, and Craig Hughes). The vocals and instrumentation are better than many big name bands, and the various styles and genres covered on this cd all blend together to make for a wonderful listen. I am proud to know J though this blogging world, and wish him and the band all the future success in the world. It will be well earned.

9.5/10

This was a group effort post.

The others were:

Geoff at 1001 Albums In 10 Years

Aaron at Keeps Me Alive

Mike at MikeLadano.com

Deke at 80’s Metal Shatz N Giggles