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Additional personnel: Robin Zander, Paul Di'Anno, Maria Brink and Sass Jordan (vocals), Rex Brown, Todd Kerns and Scott Reeder (bass), Brent Fitz (guitars) and Jeremy Spencer (drums).
Long-time gone former Ozzy Osbourne 80's guitarist Jake E. Lee has been resurrected and put in front of a band as the leader of hard rocking outfit Red Dragon Cartel. Reportedly the majority of the songs are recorded with the permanent members. I really don't know how to view that statement, but with all these guest performances, this seems more like a somewhat forced product than a real rock band.
With Lee's history and with designated outside songwriters including producer Kevin Churko's participation, I'm not the least astonished that similarities to Ozzy's work are highly evident on some tracks. To name a few; The opening song, Deceived, has a riff and a pre-chorus that are highly recognizable. The vocal melody in the verse of Feeder likewise. War Machine has N.I.B.'s groove and, just like the previously mentioned song, a vocal melody in the verse straight off Ozzy's past.
I understand the reason to why they allude to the old rocker's work, but at the same time I have a feeling that something more unique all through would be preferable. The record has of course also many songs with the band's own type of music and it's absolutely not like all is copied through carbon paper, but the resemblances get stuck in my head and stay there, whereas I find myself listening solely to sought them out.
None of the singers' performances do any major qualitative impressions to me. D.J. Smith has his moments, yet in the end, he can't contribute in full. Maria Brink sounds all but good with Big Mouth and I incidentally can't find a cause for its involvement to this record whatsoever. It seems like leftovers from some other recording and placed here because someone thought it was a good idea. Occasionally Mr. Lee is handed some extra space, and especially in the solos and through a few verses, where he is given the opportunities to the show some of his classic plays.
In the end, this debut album is pretty standardized modern
hard rock with some fixed classic guitar plays and melodies that doesn't
connect with my senses. The lack of greatness in the songs is noticeable
and some of them feels constrained. Similar to Churko's work on Black
Rain, this one has an absence of beautiful and accurate parts and I
find myself far from overwhelming excitement.