Resurrection Kings‘ 2016 debut was one of the surprise albums of that year, packed to the gunwhales with memorable classic metal choons; the album served to introduce many to the at-that-point unheralded vocal talent of Chas West, and stood out amongst the raft of other Frontiers-constructed ‘supergroups’ due to the sheer class of West and his co-conspiritors, guitarist Craig Goldy, Vinnie Appice (drums) and bassist Sean McNabb‘s contributions.
But sadly the band didn’t capitalise on the gains made by that record, and it’s only now, five years later, that the band returns, minus McNabb, for a second tilt at the crown. Skygazer, the band’s new album, continues for the most part in the same furrow carved out by it’s predecessor.
Goldy and Appice, of course, first joined forces under Ronnie James Dio‘s patronage ‘back in the day’, and the great man’s influence runs deep on this record; Co-written by ubiquitous Frontiers house producer Alessandro Del Vecchio, who also contributes bass and keys, tracks like the title opus offer the listener a direct link back to the glory days of RJD, mixing Rainbow Rising and Dream Evil in equal measure; Of course the success of music like this, with it’s studied and deliberate focus on the musical legacy of Dio, is directly correlated to the talent of the vocalist put in front of the mic in place of our much-missed and lamented hero, and in West the band has truly one of the most talented vocalists on the US hard rock scene today. He eats up anything placed in front of him from the stately pomp rock of the title track to more aggressive cuts like World’s On Fire. However he isn’t given quite as much truly memorable music to contribute to on this album in comparison to the bands’s debut; indeed, despite the unquestioned solidity of the material on offer, it isn’t until the album’s closing track, the superb AOR-tinged rocker Calling All Angels, that the band reach the heights of their debut in terms of sheer song writing quality.
That said, nobody involved actually makes a false step anywhere on the record; when you’re operating at the level of Resurrection Kings, half-cock simply isn’t an option, but solid rockers like Tears just don’t quite match the best moments from the debut in their ability to set the spine tingling.
Make no mistake, this is good stuff from go to woah – and still definitely worth a listen. Just don’t expect the unmitigated majesty of the band’s introduction to your ears half a decade ago.
Skygazer releases on July 16th.