Sunday, August 28, 2011

FALLING RED "Hasta La Victoria Siempre EP"

(c)2011 Rocksector Records

  1. Come On Down
  2. My Little Vice
  3. The Last Kiss Goodbye
  4. Ain't Down With The Rock
Rozey--Lead Vocals, Guitar
Shane Kirk--Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Millsy--Bass, Backing Vocals
Dave Sanders--Drums, Backing Vocals

Not even a full calendar year has passed and we have already been graced with a new release from one of the hottest, most-energetic sleaze bands of the modern generation.  Perhaps not wanting to risk being lost in the shuffle of new bands that come and go on a seemingly weekly basis, of perhaps simply because they like to do things their own way, Falling Red have decided to put out this incredibly high octane EP to tide fans over rather than wait another year or so to release a new full-length album.  I, for one, and dang glad they didn't wait!!!

Hasta La Victoria Siempre picks up exactly where Shake The Faith left off...and then twists the knobs a little higher.  This is four tracks of pure balls-to-the-wall adrenaline charged attitude.  Right from the first punkish-buzz of the guitar on "Come On Down", there is no doubt that Falling Red was not a simple one-shot act.  The sleaze just drips off the chords of this track and the band's collective middle fingers are raised to the modern rock establishment that simply couldn't contain a band of this caliber.  It's easy to see why these guys are sometimes referred to as the Guns N Roses of this generation, although I think such labels are dangerous as they rarely do justice to the bands being compared.  However, the attitude presented here, along with the gritty, ballsy performances, certainly lends itself to such a comparison.

"My Little Vice" backs off ever-so-slightly, but it is still an uptempo rocker with just a bit more mainstream Sunset Strip charm than Hollywood underbelly slime.  The guitars are once again the dominating feature on this track and Rozey's rhythm work coupled with Shane's leads offer up a nasty little teaser for anyone who missed out on Shake The Faith (if that's you, go get it...NOW!).

"The Last Kiss Goodbye" is the one song here that I think has true GnR worship written all over it, but it never goes into rip-off mode.  The guitar tone is very much in the same style as that which Slash used to such over-the-top excess on "November Rain".  With a bit of Skid Row in the vocal stylings, this is a monster of a power ballad that just screams for lighters to be held high when it's performed live.  I can honestly say I have not heard a ballad performed with this sense of power and urgency in a LONG time.  This is an awesome track that is not to be missed.

"Ain't Down With The Rock" is another nasty rocker that closes out this EP in true sleaze fashion.  Think of a much more highly charged antithesis to AC/DC's "For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)".  Falling Red already salutes their fans on a regular basis, so, in their words, if you "Ain't Down With The Rock...F**K RIGHT OFF!"  Whether you view this as a warning (you case YOU ain't down with the rock...), or as a kind of personal anthem, this is Falling Red at the top of their game attitude-wise, and is a great way to close out this EP.

Checking in at just shy of 16 minutes, this is almost too much of a tease, to be honest, as I was begging for a hidden track or something.  I simply didn't want this EP to end!  I truly hope that Falling Red has some other stuff already in the can somewhere, because this is one band that I do NOT want to have to wait a couple of years to hear from again.  These guys have their sound down to an absolute artform and I would rate them with the Crashdiets and Vains Of Jennas of the world...if not a bit higher, to be honest.

Rating:  Despite being an EP, you MUST crank this little tease to 9!

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Monday, August 22, 2011

WASP "Babylon"

(c) 2009 Demolition Records

  1. Crazy
  2. Live To Die Another Day
  3. Babylon's Burning
  4. Burn
  5. Into The Fire
  6. Thunder Red
  7. Seas On Fire
  8. Godless Run
  9. Promised Land
Blackie Lawless--Lead Vocals, Lead & Rhytm Guitars, Keyboards
Doug Blair--Lead & Rhythm Guitar
Mike Duda--Bass, Vocals
Mike Dupke--Drums

To say that Babylon is not a Christian metal record is to flatly deny what he has said and what the lyrics to (most of) the songs speak themselves.  No, there is not an error in what I am saying here...yes, this is the same WASP, but there is no denying the fact that Blackie Lawless is a completely new man on this album, and that man is a man of faith.

First, I feel it is important to note that not all of these songs are originals to Blackie and his band, and as such all do not lyrically fit the rest of the album. "Burn" is a cover of a Deep Purple song that was actually supposed to be on a previous album but didn't make the final cut. "Promised Land" is a Chuck Berry song that was also recorded by Elvis Presley, although WASP has definitely metal-ed the tune up considerably, while still staying true to the root sound. These songs don't specifically fit with the Biblical and Christian themes of the rest of the album, but "Burn" at least has a similar substance and feel; "Promised Land" is just one of those random, oldies covers that Blackie seems to like to throw out there every now and again.

As to the rest of the album, it is impossible to deny where Blackie is headed here. From the album artwork's depiction of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, to the lyrical content of the original songs, Blackie is obviously on a trip through the Bible and prophecy, especially as presented in Revelations.

"Crazy" starts the album out with a riff that longtime WASP fans are going to swear they have heard before...largely because Blackie basically rips himself off, using a blatant "Wild Child" riff for the intro. The vocals, the guitars, the drum sound...pure classic WASP here, and this is, in my opinion, the perfect lead in for this record, because I am sure there are a LOT of WASP fans out there who think Blackie may just be crazy when they dig into the lyrics of the songs that follow.

"Live To Die Another Day" is another classic-sounding WASP track that starts off with a slight lyrical rearrangement of Psalm 23, with Blackie then singing, "Hellhounds are running close to me, On the trail of my life... I was hellbound but now I'm running free, From Satan's angels of light...". This song is followed by yet another pure WASP-sounding song in "Babylon's Burning", which is lyrically straight out of Revelation. In the liner notes, Blackie makes it clear that he thinks so many of the things that have been going on around the world are directly tied to Bible prophecy and with this song, he really strives to make his point. He even goes so far as to tell the listener/lyrics reader where the last part of his lyrics come from: Revelation 13. Powerful stuff....

"Burn", as previously mentioned, is a cover of a Deep Purple song, but after being given the WASP treatment, it fits perfectly here, although I will admit it was a bit odd having "Babylon's Burning" followed by "Burn"...that's a lot of burning going on, especially since the next track takes us straight "Into The Fire"! This song is the band's first hint at a ballad, although like a lot of WASP "ballads", it isn't exactly a slow, plodding song by any means. One of my top two or three favorites on the album, this is yet another strong effort, especially lyrically, and Blackie's voice continues to remain strong and easily recognizable.

"Thunder Red" picks up the pace once again, and "Seas Of Fire" continues that pace before "Godless Run", the true gem of this album, slows things way down once again. Musically, "Godless Run" sounds like it could have come off the WASP masterpiece The Crimson Idol, but lyrically, there is no WASP song past or present that more speaks to where Blackie is at now. This is an achingly personal, autobiographical song that finds Blackie pouring his heart and soul out, explaining the life he once led.

I truly wish the album had ended with "Godless Run", as I think that would have made the album a nearly flawless 10. However, as Blackie has often done, he throws out an oddball cover here with the Chuck Berry track. Not terrible, but it is a distraction to say the least.

I have been a fan of WASP since the very beginning and it has been very interesting to watch Blackie's progression and searching ever since the Headless Children album (check out the Four Horsemen reference in that title track...). Blackie has shown an anger with religion in the past, as he has stated in interviews, but things have changed. That is not to say that all of WASP's material from this point on will be Christian-based or Christian-themed, but it would seem fairly safe to say that Blackie knows where he is headed personally and spriritually, and one has to expect that his band will head in a similar direction, or at least steer clear of a lot of the territory it travelled in the past.
Rating: Crank this to a very powerful 9! Were it not for the Chuck Berry cover, this would likely be a 10...

For any who wonder if Blackie preaches what he now practices, check out the following video:

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

STEPHEN PEARCY "Sucker Punch iTunes songs"

(c) 2011 Top Fuel Records

  1. Too Much Is Never Enough
  2. Don't Want To Talk About It
  3. Over & Over Again
I have no idea who is playing on these three tracks, which are the first preview songs from the upcoming Sucker Punch release from Ratt frontman, Stephen Pearcy...but I can tell you it ain't Ratt...but it ain't bad!  Sure, this is Pearcy's voice, and there is no mistaking the fact that these songs have a definite Ratt feel in the writing, but the musicianship is a good notch below that of DeMartini, Blotzer, Crane, and Cavazo.  That is not to say that these songs sound bad, because they are actually pretty good.  They are definitely lacking some of the punch and style that Ratt fans may come to the Sucker Punch project expecting, but let this could be due to the production on these three tracks which MAY NOT be the final mixes; it would not shock me at all to find out that Stephen went back and remixed these songs before the Sucker Punch album is released. 

So, what do we have here?  All three are uptempo tracks and have a definite Ratt-feel to the writing.  For those who have been following Pearcy on the 'Net, that should not be a surprise, as he has repeatedly, and somewhat bitterly, stated that he had several songs written for Ratt's Infestation album that were eventually cut from the final product.  He has stated that he took those songs to record for himself, and it would not shock me to learn that all three of these had originally been written for that Ratt disc.   

"Too Much Is Never Enough" contains a classic Ratt sounding riff that sounds like it could have been intended for the Out Of The Cellar or Invasion Of Your Privacy albums, and is my favorite of the three.  The production is a bit weak to my ears, as the background vocals are pretty flat and drums, the cymbals in particular, sound overly out front in spots, which gives them an odd sound.  The guitars are solid, and Pearcy's voice is in fine form, which has often been a problem on his other solo efforts.

"Don't Want To Talk About It" is another solid rocker that sounds more in-line with the Infestation sound.  The backing vocals are better on this one, and the drum sound is more solid as well.  The guitar tone he chooses to use for the solo on this, and the previous song, is a bit unusual, as the distortion is turned way down and the tone has almost a 60's rock n' roll feel to it.  It's an interesting contrast that doesn't harm the song, however,

UPDATE:  As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, it wouldn't surprise me if Stephen went back into the studio and touched up some of these songs, and it appears he did just that with "Don't Want To Talk About It", as the guitar tone is beefed up and given more of a modern sound, as is evidenced in this video.  I'm liking what I hear...see what you think....
The last of the three pre-release songs is "Over & Over Again", which again has a VERY classic Ratt-sounding riff to it, not totally unlike the riff in "Back For More" once it switches from acoustic to electric.  Another solid effort that is far superior to just about anything Pearcy has recorded outside of Ratt or Arcade.

Based on these three songs, I can say two things for sure.  First, I am very excited for Sucker Punch, as I think it will tide me over nicely until the new Ratt album comes out sometime in 2012 or 2013 (Pearcy says 2012 is to be devoted entirely to Ratt).  Secondly, if these songs were intended for Infestation, I think he does have a case when he says that these were stronger than the weakest material on that last Ratt album.  I would love to hear these three tracks given the full Ratt treatment.  As they stand, two of the three have a very strong 80's Ratt feel to them, and the other sounds like more recent Ratt, with all three being solid tracks.  Some minor production issues could easily be fixed before this album is released, but even if they are not adjusted, I will be all over this album like a Ratt on cheese, because if these three are any indication, Sucker Punch is going to be a great album.    

Rating:  Tough to rate just three songs, but I would give each track a crankable 7 or 8 on their own merit, with only minor production issues I mentioned in the review.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

DESYRE "Warning Of The Night"

(c) 2009 G.L.A.M. Nation Records

  1. Warning Of The Night
  2. Dreams
  3. Can't Let Go
  4. Yule Night Brightness
  5. Calling
  6. Mr. Hyde In Delite
  7. Ransom
  8. No One Knows
  9. Undoings Of My Life
  10. The Battle
  11. Burning In The 3rd Degree
Mazi Bee--Vocals, Lead Guitar
Coco Tommy--Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Mike Seeker--Bass, Backing Vocals
Jayce Prime--Drums, Percussion

It's not often that I "want to like" a band.  By that, I mean that rarely do I get a CD from someone I have talked with, that I enjoyed getting to know, and just hoped and prayed that the CD was good because I really like the person.  I was in that situation with Desyre's debut effort, Warning Of The Night, because I had met and chatted with Mazi Bee on-line, and found him to be a very likeable guy, very dedicated to his music and band, not to mention very dedicated to the task of spreading the Gospel through his music.  When he told me the band was recording their debut CD, I pre-ordered it, anxious to get it in my hands and give it a few spins.  I couldn't wait to like this CD.

Sadly, my desire to like it does not match up with what I actually feel about it.

It is not that the music is bad, because it is not.  In fact, the musicianship on the CD is very good for the most part. The guitars, especially, have a great glam/hair metal feel to them, and this band knows exactly the sound they are after, even labelling their sound "Hair Metal Madness" (also the title of their first demo) on the inlay of the digi-pack.  The rhythm section is pretty tight, also, although the sound of the drums is a bit "echoey" (is that a word?) and hollow at times, which I attribute to what was likely a very small redording budget.  Even the song structure is generally sound and very much a throwback to the 1980's.  Lyrically, for those who find these things important, the band is also very up-front about their faith and only occasionally struggle with translation from their native Finnish to English.  All of these things are average to above average, or even very good, as in the guitar department.

The vocals are a completely different story.

Part of the problem, again, is the limited recording budget.  The vocals alternate between being too out front and almost buried in the mix.  For example, on ""Yule Night Brightness", a Christmas metal song, Mazi's vocals are so low on the verses that I honestly can't make out what he is saying without the lyrics sheet.  The chorus is fine, but the verses are just a mish-mash of mumbling in Finnish-accented English and very hard to make out.  Mazi also falls out of key on several occasions, which I am not 100% sure in unintentional.  When he is on, he has a pretty good, if somewhat limited range-wise, voice for this type of material, and pulls some of these songs off very well.  Some, however, are rendered almost unlistenable by the clash between Mazi's lead vocals and the also frequently off-key backing vocals.  To his credit, Mazi has been very respectful of the criticism he has received about the vocals, and he vows that they will be better on the next album (which is being recorded as I review this effort). 

Some of the songs are very strong in their structure, performance, and sound.  I think the up-tempo rocker "The Battle" is probably the best song on the disc and Mazi's vocals actually sound incredibly on-key and on-target here.  Perhaps the mid-to-lower register most of this song is performed in is where he is more at home.  "Burning In The 3rd Degree" is actually a cover song and is another good track with some solid lead guitar work and touches of 80's New Wave-ish keyboards, which is logical since the song is a lesser-known track from the Terminator soundtrack originally performed by Tahnee Cain & the Trianglz (tell me that isn't a New Wave name!).  There is a hidden track at the end of "3rd Degree" which is actually a Finnish-language version of "The Undoings Of My Life", which is, in both forms, a fairly decent mid-tempo number that gives Mazi and Coco some time to flash their guitar talent and again finds Mazi singing in a more comfortable middle range and not straining to hit higher notes he struggles with.

The packaging is pretty good for an indy product, with full lyrics, photos, credits, and thank you's.  Again, I hate digi-packs, but since there is nothing I can do about it, I will stop my commentary there.  One little added bonus for those of us who pre-ordered the album was this sticker which came with the disc.

Overall, I think the potential is there and the love for this sound and style of music is definitely present. Also, most importantly, the heart for the band as a ministry is strong, which cannot be understated. There are just some kinks to be worked out. Had this been a self-professed demo, I think it would have been more kindly accepted by most people, as we all know demos quite often sound nothing like the finished product. For this to be a first studio effort can be looked at as either a really bad offering with nowhere for the band to go, or as a starting point for the band to build. I choose to go with the latter.

Rating:  Turn this down to 4.5 but keep an eye and ear out, because I truly feel the next effort will be far superior. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

SAINTS OF THE UNDERGROUND "Love The Sin, Hate The Sinner"

(c) 2008 Warrior Records
  1. Dead Man Shoes
  2. Tomorrow Never Comes
  3. All In How You Wear It
  4. Good Times
  5. Exit
  6. American Girl
  7. Signes Of Life
  8. Bruised
  9. Moonlight Mile
  10. Jimmy
Jani Lane--Vocals
Bobby Blotzer--Drums, Backing Vocals
Keri Kelli--Guitars, Backing Vocals
Robbie Crane--Bass, Backing Vocals

Additional Musicians:
Chuck Wright--Bass
Rick Flores--Keyboards

So-called "super groups" always have me a bit apprehensive.  Are they going to be anywhere near the quality of the members' other bands?  Is it going to turn into some sort of bloated, self-exploiting car wreck?  Will one of the members eventually kill another?  Or, will the "super group" label actually fit and the band will put out a solid product?  I mean, it has happened...HSAS and Contraband being a couple that spring to just doesn't happen often. 

Saints Of The Underground is made up of Jani Lane (ex-Warrant...duh), Keri Kelli (ex-Alice Cooper, Ratt, LA Guns, Skid Row, Slash's Snakepit...and on and on...), Robbie Crane (Ratt), and Bobby Blotzer (Ratt), with contributions from Chuck Wright (Quiet Riot), and Rick Flores (ex-Mystic Cross, Stride), so I think that the qualifications for the "super group" label are fairly met.  Originally conceived by Blotzer as an outlet for music that he had written while away from Ratt, S.O.T.U. really came into being as a full-fledged project sometime in 2006 when he recruited Kelli to help him put his musical ideas together.  Lane, and then Crane, were also brought on board, but outside of doing a few gigs as a cover band, not much really came of it at first.  However, after it became obvious that the chemistry was there, they decided to go ahead and record this album to see where it led.

Where it led was straight to my CD player as soon as I found out about it, and it has made frequent return trips in the past couple of years.  This is a very good album that, while having elements of all the members' other bands, really sounds nothing like the members' other bands.  Oh sure, Jani Lane is going to sound like Jani Lane, but there are no songs that make you say, "oh yeah...that's a Ratt (or Warrant, or Alice...) song."  These are S.O.T.U. songs, period...well, with the exception of the Tom Petty song...and the Rolling Stones cover...oh, and the album closer, which I will get to in a bit.

The album kicks off with one of the best tracks here, the short-but-sweet rocker, "Dead Man's Shoes" which is the closest the band ever comes to what I think could have possibly also been a Warrant song.  That is rather unexpected, since this is also a song that Blotzer had previously written and recorded on his own solo project, Twenty4Seven with John Corabi handling the vocals.  Regardless, it is a good song and one that pretty much lets the listener know what to expect from the rest of the album.

The solid rock material continues with "Tomorrow Never Comes", "Good Times" and "Exit", all mid-to-up-tempo rockers, with "Good Times" being a fairly modern-sounding track complete with guitar effects.  The album's single "All In How You Wear It", is another good rocker, but something about it just seems a bit off to me; perhaps it is the angry style of delivery that Jani uses here. 

The Petty cover is interesting, as this is easily one of his best known songs yet the band chooses to speed up and tweak just enough to update the song.  This is, of course, a risk as purists always get ticked off when bands alter beloved cover songs, but I think it works pretty well, especially the way Blotz tackles the drums and how Lane phrases the lyrics to fit the updated sound.  This is pretty high praise from an admitted non-Petty fan!

My personal favorites are both found on the last third of the album.  First is "Bruised" which features some frantic drumming from Blotzer and some pretty introspective lyrics from Lane.  The other fave would be "Jimmy", which a lot of Warrant fans will likely swear they have heard before.  That is because they have.  Warrant performed this song on-and-off for several years in the mid-to-late 1980's, but they never got around to recording it, so Jani took it upon himself to do so.  Stylistically, it easily could have come from Cherry Pie or possibly Dog Eat Dog, but it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb in this collection and the band does a good job of making it fit with the rest of the material.     

Am I saying this is a perfect record?  Not at all.  I am not particularly enamored of the Stones cover, to be honest, as I don't really like the inclusion of a acoustic guitar-and-keyboard song on an othewise rocking album.  It's not a terrible song, but if you aren't a Stones fan (which I am not), this is just a ho-hum ballad that the disc could do without.  "Signs Of Life" is decent, but not write-home-about-it material, and, as I already mentioned, there is just something a bit off about "All In How You Wear It".  Still, considering the potential for disaster that a "super group" brings to the studio, I think this is a commendable effort and one that I found myself enjoying a great deal.  I hope that the band manages to find time to regroup and record some more music of this caliber.  Perhaps with Ratt back on hiatus, Blotzer and Crane can find the time to hook up with Kelli and Lane and give us S.O.T.U. round two!

Rating:  Crank this at a solid 7.

Monday, August 1, 2011

ADRENALIN KICK "Bad Reputation"

(c) 1991 TAB Music
  1. Dehumanize
  2. She's Got Me Runnin'
  3. Get Up
  4. Turn Me Off
  5. Rough Stuff
  6. Beware The Stranger
  7. Million Miles
  8. All I Want
  9. Cold, Tired, And Hungry
  10. Bad Reputation
Mick Pritchard--Vocals
Darren Richardson--Bass
Andre Kania--Guitar
Dave Cooke--Guitar

Adrenalin Kick (that is how they spelled it) was a rarely heard of band that released this hard rocker in 1991, then disbanded after releasing what is generally accepted to be an atrocious follow-up about 6 or 7 years later.  While there is nothing exceptionally special about this band, there is also nothing terrible about them or this album.  They remind me a bit of a lesser-talented Kik Tracee to some degree.  The lead vocalist, Mick Pritchard, is more than competent and is what I call a power-vocalist, using a lower tenor range for most of the tracks.  He is not a screamer by any means, nor does he ever get up into the high singing range that a lot of bands employed during this era.  The guitar tandem of Kania and Cooke is competent, if not overly flashy, and the rhythm section is generally pretty tight.  So why has no one heard of them?

Frankly, the songs themselves are nothing overly special and sound like songs you have heard from dozens of other lower-tier bands on several dozen albums.  There are flashes of talent, such as on "Cold, Tired, And Hungry", which has a nice hook to it, or on the rocking title track.  As far as other good material, "Dehumanize" rocks pretty hard but is not overly memorable.  "Beware The Stranger" might be the best track on the disc and has some nice guitar work on it, and I would have liked to hear more songs in this style.  "Get Up" is decent, if not spectacular, and "Rough Stuff" is an above average effort as well, but that is about it. 

"Turn Me On" is a rather lame ballad, and "Million Miles" is pure filler material.  "All I Want" has potential, again showing some nice guitar flashes, but the lyrics are pretty lame and cliche with no real vocal hook or catchy chorus to help the song along.         

Should you get this?  Well, first off, you are going to have a hard time finding it, as it is on a TINY label.  That makes it fairly collectible, so for that reason, I would snag it if you can find it for a good price (sub-$10).  It is not a terrible album and you are probably going to find a few tracks you like.  It is a decent "mix in" disc that breaks up the monotony of all of your favorites strung back-to-back, but that is about the best it will ever be for me.  Adrenalin Kick had potential but they never brought it fully into being, at least on an album.  I have heard they had a GREAT live show, however.

Rating:  Rock this at 5.5 or so, but snap it up if you find it makes good trade material on the internet!  

PAUL SHORTINO featuring Jeff Northrup "Back On Track"

(c) 1993 Bullet Proof Records/Music For Nations
  1.  The Kid Is Back In Town
  2. Body & Soul
  3. Girl Like You
  4. Pieces
  5. Bye-Bye To Love
  6. Everybody Can Fly
  7. Give Me Love
  8. Remember Me
  9. Rough Life
  10. Forgotten Child
  11. Where There's Smoke
Paul Shortino--Vocals
Jeff Northrup--Guitars, Backing Vocals, Sitar

Additional Musicians:
James Kottak--Drums
Carmine Appice--Drums
Glenn Hicks--Drums, Backing Vocals
Sean McNabb--Bass, Bbacking Vocals
Jeff Pilson--Bass
Matt Missenette--Bass
Larry Hart--Bass
Richard Baker--Keys
Brant Harradine--Keys

Who knew that when he was fronting Rough Cutt, Paul Shortino made so many friends?  Calling in favors from members of Great White, King Kobra, Dokken, and several other bands, Shortino and his friend Jeff "JK" Northrupp put together this excellent record, which would turn out to be the first of several collaborations between the two.  While rather difficult to find, as it is on a very small label, this gem in the rough is well worth tracking down if you are a fan of any of Shortino's work, past or present.

For a lot of people, Shortino is something of a poor-man's David Coverdale, and while I can understand the comparisons, I actually prefer Shortino's voice.  I was never a huge fan of most of his stuff with Rough Cutt, to be honest, as the musical style just never grabbed me; it wasn't terrible, just kind of "there".  However when he is given more of a chance to showcase what I feel to be his true style, which is a smokier, blusier style, Shortino really shines.  Nowhere is this more evident than on tracks like the mid-tempo, inspriational rocker, "Everybody Can Fly", or equally powerful "Rough Life".  Both songs not only showcase Shortino's vocal prowess but they also give Northrup the chance to really cut loose on some excellent, extended solo work that rivals anything he had done with King Kobra on the King Kobra III album. 

There are several up-tempo numbers as well, with the best two being the album opener, "The Kid Is Back In Town", and the closer, "Where There's Smoke".  Again, these songs give Shortino a chance to stretch the vocal chords and for Northrup to show some flash and flair.  "Where There's Smoke" also incorporates several guest appearances which add a bit of flavor to the song.  "Give Me Love" is another excellent rocking number that has a bit of hook-and-groove to it, giving it a definite 80's sound despite the fact that this album was released almost half-way through the 90's.

The only real ballad on the disc is a strong one called "Forgotten Child".  Once again, Shortino's voice really works for this kind of number and the background vocals here really lend to the overall sound of this largely acoustic number.    "Pieces" teases you into thinking it is going to be a ballad with its into, but it turns into a full-fledged rocker with a monster of a solo embedded in the middle, so "Forgotten Child" is your only chance to take a breather during this rocking album.

For fans looking to hear Northrup really go off, check out the amazing instrumental, "Remember Me", which is roughly four minutes of nothing but emotional, soul-searing blues metal guitar at its best.  This track definitely deserves inclusion here and is a shoo-in to be included on any instrumental mix disc you might decide to burn for your own listening pleasure.  Killer, killer stuff here...

There are truly no weak songs here, and this disc really shows the musical kinship that Shortino and Northrup have when working with each other.  Thankfully, this is a partnership that sees multiple album releases as the more democratically named Shortino/Northrup.

Again, this is a very difficult album to find, but it is well worth the money if you do manage to score a copy.  I paid $20 for my import copy, only to find out the disc had been reissued in 2003 with bonus tracks on it (which I don't have).  Needless to say, I am working on finding that version now!

Rating:  An absolutely crank-able album!  8 is the minimum level for this disc!