(c) 2016 Independent Release
- Diamond High
- The Surgeons
- A Murder When I Sing
- Bite It
- Silver Inside
- Bat Snake Tiger
- It's A Sure Thing
- A Real Class Act
- Stand On Ceremony
Thadeus Gonzalez--Vocals, Guitar
Scott Reategui Richards--Bass, Guitar
Dennis Hill--Guitar, Bass
Even in the hard rock world, Thadeus Gonzalez is not a household name by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, exactly NONE of my friends had even heard of this singer/guitar player until I introduced them to his album, Utopian Society, a couple of years back. To be honest, even I lost track of Gonzalez after that album because I had not heard a single new note from him in that time.
Gonzalez remedies that issue with his new, self-titled album, Thadeus Gonzalez. Self-released and available through his website, www.thadeusgonzalez.com, this new album finds Gonzalez in fine form with an album of eight new hard rock numbers and a lone ballad ("Stand On Ceremony"), each crafted with solid rhythm guitars, Dave Grohl-esque vocals (provided by Gonzalez), and a punchy rhythm section that really lays a bedrock foundation for each of these numbers to be built upon.
The album kicks off with "Diamond High", which comes charging out of the gate, bass, and drums all pummeling the listener before Gonzalez crashes in with his angry, snarled-not-screamed vocals. There is an interesting tempo change near the end of the track, throwing the listener for a bit of a loop, before the pace picks back up and finishes in hard-charging fashion.
"The Surgeons" is one of my favorite songs here, as it really showcases Gonzalez's ability to meld a more melodic rock style with the aggressive-sounding rhythm guitars that his music incorporates throughout the majority of this record. The chorus is particularly strong as Gonzalez sings about "everybody takes something until there's nothing left inside". The churning guitars are solid throughout, although I do wish there was a rocking solo thrown into the mix after the second chorus.
Hand claps and a bouncing bass line intro the next track, which I find to be rather humorous. Seriously...any singer that dares to title a song of his "A Murder When I Sing" has to be able to plant his tongue firmly in cheek. Now, obviously, the song isn't about his singing being so bad that people die when he steps to the mic, but c'mon...you gotta see the humor here, right? Again, this is a cool, aggressive hard rocker that is definitely in the upper-half of the material on the record and it is catchy as all get out. I would imagine live crowds are going to eat this track up!
"Bite It" is an extremely aggressive modern rocker, with some absolute breakneck rhythms and jackhammer drums coursing throughout the angry track that constantly grinds away with buzzsaw rhythm guitars and a rumbling bass, while "Silver Inside" backs off the aggression and tempo just a bit, utilizing more of a classic rock guitar tone, especially at the beginning, to establish the attitude and approach of this song.
"Bat Snake Tiger" is another favorite of mine here, with its stripped down approach, relying almost exclusively on the drums and bass underneath each of the verses, with the guitars snarling their way in to help fill up the chorus before backing off a bit once the chorus ends, and then completely disappearing again once the next verse starts. I really, really dig the structure and design of this song and it is with this type of experimental approach that I think Gonzalez shines. Again, I think a nice, screamer of a solo would add to the overall feel of the song, I still enjoy it for what it is and find myself returning to this song again and again.
"It's A Sure Thing" starts off rather quietly, just a lone guitar and Gonzalez working through the first verse, only to be joined by a bass drum for the second lyrical pass, then allowing the entirety of the band to come crashing in for the chorus and the rest of the track. Again, not a traditional rock arrangement, especially in the modern rock world, but effective nonetheless. This track, along with "Bat Snake Tiger", really reminds me of some of the stuff that Bobaflex does so well, which is perhaps why I like them so much.
"A Real Class Act", co-penned by Gonzalez and Richards, is another nice rocker before the album closes with its lone down-tempo track, "Stand On Ceremony". Gonzalez says in his press release that this track is "about not following tradition. Times change, views change; you have to adapt and believe in yourself." Gonzalez and his guitar stand alone for the first 70 seconds or so before the rest of the band joins in on a track that is structured a lot like the ballads that Foo Fighters have utilized to such great effect. This is also the one track on the album with an absolutely true guitar solo, and it is pulled off in excellent fashion with a lot of emotion poured into its execution. Very nicely done and an interesting way to close an otherwise balls-to-the-wall rocker of an album.
The band is very tight throughout the record, with only a change in bass players from the first record. Nathan Walker of the band Lit again joins Gonzalez on drums, and new bassist/guitar player, Scott Raetegui Richards, really helps to round out the overall sound of the record. Despite the indie nature of the record, the production is top notch, with Dennis Hill (Hagar/Satriani, Lit, Good Charlotte) producing, as well as contributing some lead guitar and additional bass, as he did on Gonzalez's previous Utopian Society record.
I have a promo copy, so I am not 100% sure of the packaging for this record. Mine is just a simple cardboard sleeve with the album cover on the front and a skeletal outline of information on the back. No lyrics are included, but Gonzalez is easy to understand throughout the record, so with a couple of spins through you will likely be singing along, especially to the catchiest tracks here.
Edgy, aggressive, fast (for the most part), and yet still experimental in places, Thadeus Gonzalez will be a nice introduction to the album's namesake for those who may have missed him the first time around. I doubt the record will get much in the way of airplay, largely due to this indie status with no label backing, but that shouldn't stop fans of modern hard rock from jumping over to the website to snag a copy of this album.
Rating: Crank this to a 7, with the lack of lead guitars being the main thing that keeps it from edging a bit higher. Not earth-shattering, but definitely enjoyable.