It’s always interesting to see that Glenn Hughes has a new “project”. It’s interesting because Hughes, for the most part, has a pretty core sound that works it’s way through most of his projects. The differences between Black Country Communion, California Breed and the latest solo release RESONATE are more nuances than actual differences. RESONATE is an extremely solid release, which you can bet Hughes is very proud of. Not resting on his Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame induction, Hughes returns with a fiery and diverse record that challenges his previous benchmarks and touches into some new ground along the way. Songs like “Heavy” showcase the power of this brilliant voice, while other songs like “Steady” could lead you to believe Hughes is looking to form Deep Purple MK 39. This is a near perfect release for Hughes; his best work since RETURN OF CRYSTAL KARMA.
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BROTHERHOOD OF THE SNAKE
It’s really never a bad time for a new Testament release, is it? Testament returns with a brutal, powerful and what you would have to call an “as expected” release. BROTHERHOOD OF THE SNAKE brings all the heavy you would ever want from Testament. It’s not a reinvention of the wheel by any standard, but if you liked Testament before, there’s really nothing in the way here to make you change your mind now. Vocalist Chuck Billy sounds mean as fuck throughout, while guitarists Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick have created punishing riffs that seems to really penetrate your soul from their ferocity. Mix in a bottom end created by bass legend Steve DiGiorgio and “The Atomic Clock” Gene Hoglan, and you’ve got a formula for heavy metal brutality that is seldom bested.
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Jackyl mastermind Jesse James Dupree is sort of the rock ‘n’ roll equivalent of Larry The Cable Guy. He plays his redneck schtick to the hilt, so it’s impossible to tell where the act ends and the man begins. One thing is clear though: neither of these gents would still be around if they were really the dumb hillbillies they play on stage. They know their audience, and that audience reciprocates that loyalty. At the same time however, there’s now a palpable sense of having heard it all before, with “Rock me, roll me, Jackyl me off” sounding as tired and obligatory a slogan as “Git ‘er done!” these days.
So here we have Jackyl’s seventh proper studio album, Rowyco. That’s an acronym for “rock out with your cock out,” in case you wondered. Jesse has long bragged about his band’s remarkable consistency, and in a way he’s right: Jackyl never stray too far from their patented whiskey-guzzling, titty-pinching, AC/DC-meets-Skynyrd sound. Sometimes it leans more toward the sound of a souped-up Camaro, and sometimes it sounds more like a lumbering, smoke-belching truck, but Jackyl’s music has always been instantly recognizable. Jesse’s voice has remained amazingly intact, on record at least, particularly for a singing style that would seem to be hard on the vocal cords (especially for a guy it’s difficult to picture sipping on herbal tea and not talking for any length of time). The rest of the band, comprised of Jeff and Chris Worley on guitar and drums along with one-time Brother Cane bassist Roman Glick, are as rock-solid as always. But the quality of the band’s songs has been up and down through the years, with their self-titled 1992 debut plus 2010’s aplty-named When Moonshine And Dynamite Collide being loaded with some of the band’s best songs, while other discs (Cut The Crap, for example, or 2012’s Best In Show) boasted a handful of good songs and lots of lackluster filler. So where does Rowyco fit into the hierarchy? Somewhere in the middle, I’d have to say.
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It’s 2016, so it’s fashionable to shit on Geoff Tate. It’s also the thing to do to say that his new project, Operation: Mindcrime, is terrible, compare it to what his previous band Queensryche is doing, and hate it because it’s not the same. Not at all fair, really...but I get it. That said, if you can move passed comparing to another band, accept that Tate is trying something different, and judge the music contained for what it is, you might just find some music that you will enjoy. RESURRECTION is the middle piece of Tate’s three party trilogy about the global takeover of the world through digital banking and the corrupt practices of controlling the financial world from behind a keyboard instead of through any sort of physical means. The story of “K” is pretty interesting, and would read well in a graphic novel. That said, Tate’s introduction to the story (called THE KEY) was not that good a release. It was far too experimental, and unlike his great opus OPERATION: MINDCRIME, it lacked anything catchy to compel the listener to dig deeply into the story. With RESURRECTION, that has been corrected somewhat. While a lot of the material is still slow, it sets a much more compelling path vs. THE KEY. Songs like “Left For Dead” are strong enough as stand alone material, which gives a listener the space to dig into the lyrics a bit more and discover what is going on in Tate’s Illuminati-like global takeover.
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