Released: March 2018
Reviewed by: Benedict Roff-Marsh
I see many others have jumped on reviewing this one too. And why not. It smells like good ole Rock & Roll fun of yore. The type the kids decided was altogether too lame & cheesy in the 90’s and have made us wait for almost a generation to allow it to creep in the back door (sometime after 10pm).
This is straight up ballsy, bouncy, bombastic Rock of the slightly heavy variety. If you know much about Rock and have started listening to this you know what I mean.
If you know a bit more about Rock you probably also recognize that this could almost be a Thin Lizzy record. There’s no getting around that but I think that the guys know and are gunning for Lynott’s vocal sound and Lizzy’s trademark twin guitar harmonies.
The downside is I am always waiting for a “Boys Are Back In Town” and of course it isn’t coming. Don’t get me wrong the songs are all strong enough but equally, there isn’t a stellar single on offer. This is the rawer sound of a Rockin’ band so you don’t get any of the glossier moments of say a Gary Moore solo record.
The record takes a turn pace-wise with “Heavy Meddle” which I will say I am happy with as it breaks the pace. Downside is that it seems a bit undeveloped as a song. Fast songs can cover a wealth of flaws with pace and frenzy but once you slow the pace you need the soul and melodic variety to pack your punch. The last track returns to the pace and shows the cheer again.
I see a lot of excitement from fans over this (and the last) Gygax record. I understand as with little else on offer like this for so long it is a great thing to have Rock & Roll & Fun back in the same box.
For someone like me tho with a hard drive full of bands like R.E.O. Speedwagon, Journey, Foreigner, Boston etc, I have to wonder how much I would grab this album over those. Sure this is new and those are worn, but those are deep, lively and varied records with killer songs that have stood the test of time and I am comfy with them. Hard to say.
Photos suggest the band are a bit tongue in cheek. After all, the band name is taken from Dungeons & Dragons. Sadly like Steel Panther, I think this has caused them to take themselves a little too un-seriously as while the songs come across as fun, they also come across as samey or formula, built on technique more than passion. I would love to hear some more depth or soul in the songwriting and delivery.
That extra soul would transform Gygax from a fun night out to a real force to be reckoned with. I hope the boys manage to do that so they can truly live up to their 70’s Saturday night Stadium Rock groove.