WEST BOUND – Volume 1

The first thing I did when I got the reviewer’s link and press release to this record was to check who the members of this band/project were because the name itself didn’t say anything – and I only recognized one name out of five – guitarist Roy Z, a guy who plays in a band called Tribe Of Gypsies but is mostly known as a producer for icons like Rob Halford (Judas Priest) and Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden). It also appears that other members of this lot are in Tribe Of Gypsies – a band that released their last album in 2006. Vocalist and founder of this band, Chas West (Resurrection Kings, Bonham, Lynch Mob) and drummer Dave Moreno was on the that album but the rest of the lot – guitarist Jimmy Burkard and bassist Jason Cornwell – are new names to me. The press release’s “For fans Of” section wrote Red Dragon Cartel, Steelheart, Tora Tora, Lynch Mob and L.A. Guns as possible musical alikes and while some of those are stable and ok acts, none of them makes me go “WOW!”. But as always, an open mind and more than one listen will make it clear if this is anything to write home about for me.

The album opens with the debut single “Never Surrender”. It’s an 80’s Metal goes Hard Rock stomper, rough in sound and in your face. It brings on twists of both Dio, Saxon and more main-stream late 80’s Arena Rock – and I think of David Reece (Accept, Bonfire) when I hear West sing. It’s an good song but that grows with each listen. Latest single “Dance Of Life” follows. It’s a mid-pace Hard Rock groover, big on 80’s plain Hard Rock – from the first half of the decade – vibes and holds a punchy rhythm, very direct. This tune is catchier than the opening track, especially the refrain, and therefore a better choice as a single although I doubt it will turn into a hit of any sort. “Ain’t Gonna Drown” is upbeat, direct and crunchy with a good, memorable vocal melody throughout the song. It’s a traditional Hard Rock number but with a lot of the sounds of late 80’s American Hard Rock. Think Whitesnake’s late 80’s and you know what to expect here. Good tune.

Second single “Beautiful Dream” is up next. It’s a ballad that holds levitating and dreamy melodies in the verses whereas the chorus is more of a late 80’s power ballad in style. It is slow and laid-back with a melancholic outlook and said chorus is of the catchier kind, the type that got heavy rotation on MTV back in the late 80’s/early 90’s. A really good tune. “Nothing” is also a ballad albeit in a more uptempo pace. It’s quite straight-forward with a big pop vibe and a very catchy refrain – very good. A really good track that should be a single as well. “Roll The Bones” on the other hand is upbeat and heavy on a tough groove, quite rowdy with Metal influences and a big early 90’s Stadium Rock refrain. It’s an ok track that’s better than good but not good enough to be great, if that makes any sense. “On My Own” is total American late 80’s Arena Rock on the Melodic Rock side rather than Metal but with a Hard Rock vibe. A memorable rocker with a distinct and catchy refrain – good one.

The mid-paced “Keeper Of The Flame” is a pretty standard hard Rock track with a gritty blues touch in the guitars. It’s in mid-pace and brings on a decent groove but unfortunately the tune goes nowhere – a clear filler.With “Turn To You” it’s ballad time again and this one holds a faster pace, based on a piano riff.It’s a direct and straight-forward track albeit with a melancholic twist. It also swings with a danceable groove and brings along memorable melodies and a spot-on refrain that sticks right away without being the least saccharine – great stuff. “No Room For Sympathy”is a steady, direct rocker with a big main melody-arrangement and a catchy pop-laden refrain on a base of classic Heavy Metal driven Hard Rock. Very good. Closer “Traveller” starts off with a big Tony Carey-like keyboard intro, old Rainbow style and a built on a big synth riff but when the band comes in, the tune turns heavy in a Led Zeppelin meets Deep Purple vibe and my mind drifts towards Whitesnake’s 1987 album. Steady, gritty and tough with a big-ass refrain, the song is clearly my favorite tune on the album. Great closer.

As a whole, not without some really good song, this album is very much a standard Hard Rock with Metal turns, album. Too few song here really stands out and both sound and performances is way too unpersonal and they lack identity. That said, as musicians, theses guys are all faultless – West is damn fine singer. Also, the production is stripped and groundy – which is usually a good thing – but this record sound a bit DIY budget like they ran out of studio-time or money or both and had to rush things. Some might say it’s organic but to me it sounds unfinished. I don’t know who produced this, but I’m guessing Roy Z, something that baffles me some because his productions are usually spot-on. But the potential here is obvious. With the debut album out, hopefully the band can concentrate on touring and then taking the time to write a follow-up that can hold what some of the songs here promises.

5/10

Tracklist:

1. Never Surrender
2. Dance Of Life
3. Ain’t Gonna Drown
4. Beautiful Dream
5. Nothing
6. Roll The Bones
7. On My Own
8. Keeper Of The Flame
9. Turn To You
10. No Room For Sympathy
11. Traveller

 

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