Hands up everyone who has longed for a new album by Jackyl. Or everyone who knew that the band even still existed. Or anyone who actually know who Jackyl are. I will put my hand up for the last one because I clearly remember the first time I saw Jackyl on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball where they showed their debut single “I Stand Alone” from their self titled 1992 album. Their AC/DC meets Southern rock meets pop shipped their debut album platinum “over there” and they had some hit singles like “Down On Me” and the blues rocker “The Lumberjack” where lead singer Jesse James Dupree actually plays a solo on a chainsaw (!) – the band were very close to making it at a time when grunge had started to make a big fuss with bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam selling records by the pound. But you can never heat up a soufflé, something many bands before them had learnt the hard way. The follow-up Push Comes To Shove (1994) was a pretty good album, but Jackyl tried to write their debut all over again, even bringing out the chainsaw again. Cool as f’**k once, a desperate move twice! The band’s third album Cut The Crap (1997) bombed completely, something not even an appearance from AC/DC’s Brian Johnson could have prohibited by then. Jackyl even got lumped into the “hair metal” moniker (stupid, stupid, stupid name!) together with Warrant, Winger, Poison, Slaughter and all the other pop-metal bands for some unexplained reason. But the band never went away and Jackyl are NOT another one of those reunited hard rock bands from the early nineties. Their brand new album is their eighth one – and the first Jackyl album I have listened to since Push Comes To Shove. Yes, I knew about the release of Cut The Crap and the follow-up Stayin’ Alive (1998), an album of half new tracks and half of live versions of older tracks, but I had lost interest. And yes, I did think that Jackyl had split up after that and had no idea that the guys had kept going for all these years. What is also cool about Jackyl is that 3/4 of the band are original members – singer Dupree, guitarist Jeff Worley and drummer Chris Worley. They used to be a five-piece but they didn’t bother to replace original guitarist Jimmy Stiff and former Brother Cane bass player Roman Glick has replaced Tom Bettini – this version of the band has been solid since 1998. It has to be said, though, that there was an eight year gap between Relentless (2002) and When Moonshine And Dynamite Collide (2010), call that a split-up if you want.
The first new Jackyl song I have heard in 12 years is called “Disasterpiece” and the damn thing hits me like a ton of bricks. It is hard and aggressive, but still with every classic rock in the book. However, the big AC/DC influence is reduced and that’s actually a good thing – this song is a real gut puncher. First single “Rally” is a kicking groover that sports an intense chorus with a big chant that sticks right away, but not in a top of the pop charts kind of way, no, this one rocks hard as Hell – a killer tune! “All Night Rodeo” brings on a more funky beat with an Aerosmith meets AC/DC groove. Put some Southern rock on top of it and you’re there. Try to sit still while playing that one if you can. “Ahead Of My Time” sounds like a heavier version of Jackyl on their debut album, but the chorus reminds me of The Cult. This one sure kicks up some dust. “Just Because I’m Drunk” is a tongue-in-cheek swinging Southern rock ballad that just screams white trash – and I mean that in a good way. Parts of it makes me think of a more raunchy Blackberry Smoke – you just gotta love that! Tell Angus Young to write a song but add both funk and even a little disco to the beat and voila – you have “Everyone’s A Winner”. I know, it really shouldn’t work but it sure as Hell does. “Crazy” has a heavy beat and an angry image but it’s still catcher than herpes. Try putting “Back In Black” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me” in a blender and hit the button and this what you get. “Hammer To The Head” is slow, dark and heavy – almost stoner rock like. If Black Sabbath went all in and made a classic rock record, it could sound something like this – so awesome. “Limpdick” is a straight forward pissed-off rocker, no more, no less. Somebody must have pissed Dupree off really bad when he wrote it. I love the dynamics of the song but the actual song doesn’t really cut it all the way for me. “Blast Off” that closes the album is a kick-ass hard rocker with a big punch. It’s perfect as an album closer but it would also be awesome as a show opener.
Here’s the deal, this album takes no prisoners – it kicks ass and takes names and it doesn’t apologize for anything. This is a record that will knock you down for the count from behind when you’re not ready. This album is a sucker punch. But at the same time, this album is fun, it will make you wanna grab a beer and hit on your neighbour’s wife. If anything is fun evil, then this is it. Jackyl are on fire, firing on all cylinders and they mean business. Dupree’s Bon Scott-like voice has gotten a bit older (not old, older!) and yeah, it sounds somewhat strained at times, but it doesn’t matter and I think his voice sounds great. Sound wise it’s a bit heavier than usual, parts even goes metal, but it’s still classic rock all the way. It’s raw, stripped, aggressive but both melodic and catchy. This album is so good that I feel ashamed that I never bothered to check out their albums from album # 3 and forward, but there’s time for that and that will happen. Great album and well done. But will somebody please let me know what the fuck ROWYCO means!
3. All Night Rodeo
4. Ahead Of My Time
5. Just Because I’m Drunk
6. Everyone’s A Winner
8. Hammer To The Head
10. Blast Off