Singer Graham Bonnet (ex- Rainbow, MSG, Alcatrazz, Impellitteri, Blackthorne) has been one creative dude the last few years. Not only has he been touring with his own Graham Bonnet Band and the Michael Schenker Fest, he has also released a double CD and a live album with GBB, released on July 7. Quite impressive for a soon to be 70-year-old guy when you think about the fact that it have been really quiet in Bonnet camp for years before that. Dario Mollo is another quite creative individual. The guy has made records with ex- Black Sabbath singer Tony Martin and three Voodoo Hill albums with Glenn Hughes (ex- Trapeze, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Gary Moore, Black Country Communion, California Breed) and last year’s brilliant Rock The Cradle with his own outfit Crossbones. So, right out of the blue came the news that Mollo had put together a new project with Bonnet – and this is it. Labelled as EZoo, short for Electric Zoo, a name the pair used when they were touring together back in 2014. The couple recorded demos of a bunch of old Rainbow tunes but nothing more came out of that. Until now that is. So with Mollo’s Crossbones record in close memory and Bonnet’s great solo album, hopes were high for this album.
The album kicks off with “You Are Your Wallet” and style wise, it’s a clear nod back to Bonnet’s days in MSG. It’s a groovy rocker but it’s surprisingly forgettable and without being bad per se, nothing really sticks. “The Flight Of Sapini” is a one-minute instrumental interlude where Mollo gets to shred. Mollo is a very talented guitar player but I have always found these kinds of string masturbations quite boring. The couple kicks into some very 80’s sounding melodic rock with “C’est La Vie” and even though it’s easy to hear that they aim for a hit feel here, the tune just doesn’t stick and again, without being bad, the song has lost me halfway through. But just when I started to feel somewhat worried about where this record was going quality wise, “Guys From Gods” tags along and brings some hope to the table. It’s a melodic hard rock song that comes with a kicking groove, balls and attitude – and Bonnet’s best vocal performance on this album so far. A damn catchy rocker with some cool lyrics.
Then the 11 minute, epic title track shows up – a slower paced, heavy and dark hard rock tune that sports a somewhat progressive vibe. I wouldn’t call the song catchy as in catchy but the melodies and the chorus sure stays in my head for quite the while. Add an atmospheric, soft and emotional guitar solo to that and we have a winner. The acoustic and electric guitar ending of the song is phenomenal. That’s when “Eyes Of The World” shows up. Yes, that “Eyes Of The World”. The original that is on Rainbow’s Down To Earth (1979) is a masterpiece and impossible to better, but that said, we got a re-recording of the song on Bonnet’s new solo album – and another one is on his live album that will be out in a couple of days. Needless to say, yet another version of it is overkill and why would we need this one? It’s not bad, but it doesn’t add anything to the table so it’s quite pointless. Besides, all the other versions of the song are better than this one so this version puzzles me a bit.”Colder Than Cool” goes back into melodic rock territory with a main melody and chorus that really wants to be catchy and hit laden but it never really reaches its goal. It’s a standard rocker that goes in one ear and out the other.
“Too High To Be Falling” comes with a pretty good refrain and the groove pretty much rocks but there’s something here that keeps the tune from going anywhere – it’s too forgettable and middle-of-the-road – and by now I’m getting worried again. “Motorbike” has a very catchy guitar and keyboard riff and verses brings some very catchy melodies that makes me tap along but the chorus falters some, I’m afraid. It’s an ok song but I have a problem making it stick when the verse is catchier than the chorus. And when we’re on the overkill topic, please welcome “Since You Been Gone”. The old Rainbow classic is awesome, but we also have been given versions of the song by Impellitteri (Stand In Line, 1988), Alcatrazz (Live Sentence, 1984), The Graham Bonnet Band (The Book, 2016 and Live… Here Comes The Night, 2017) before. Without saying the guys made a bad version of it – because they didn’t – I will just say it again: Overkill! “Don’t Look Back”, on the other hand, is great. It’s slow, atmospheric and dark – and the Black Sabbath influence is all over the song. I’m wondering if could be a left-over from Mollo’s days with Tony Martin because it would suit Martin perfectly. It brings on a very catchy melody, without being radio-friendly at all and Mollo’s Ritchie Blackmore-like guitar solo fits like a glove. The album ends with a soft and taciturn instrumental based on only guitar and keyboard called “Coda”. The melancholic and congenial melody makes the piece very atmospheric.
I must say that I’m disappointed. With both Mollo and Bonnet releasing some very fine products of late, I thought they would continue the quality filled path the two of them had been on but this album just don’t cut it. Sure, Bonnet can still sing and he does it well here even though it sounds somewhat strained here and there and Mollo is a damn fine guitar player with his feet in both 70’s hard rock and 80’s melodic rock, but on this album it feels like they have been rushing the song writing. There are songs on here that proves that the two have some big potential in producing a monster of an album but those are too few. And not only does the album contain more fillers than hits, the production is also a bit too thin which makes the album sounding rushed and unfinished. Still, with all the criticism, I don’t want to call this a bad album – it just could have been so much better than it is now.
1. You Are Your Wallet
2. The Flight Of The Sapini
3. C’est La Vie
4. Guys From God
5. Feeding The Beast
6. Eyes Of The World
7. Colder Than Cool
8. Too High To Be Falling
10. Since You Been Gone
11. Don’t Look Back