posted on 11/2005 By:
For those of you who might not know, Rob Rock has been part of the Hard Rock/Metal scene since the late 80’s, and is regarded by some as the premiere Hard Rock vocalist of the last 20 years. Since his first project, M.A.R.S. (MacAlpine, Aldridge, Rock, Sarzo) in 1987, Rock has contributed his vocal talent to 8 different bands, but is probably best known for his role as the accompanying vocalist to speed demon guitar virtuoso, Chris Impellitteri. Rock provided the solid voice behind the music on Impelliteri’s first self-titled E.P., and remained on board for 7 more recordings before bailing to release his first solo outing; 2000’s, Rage of Creation (an album which also featured Jake E. Lee of Ozzy fame, and producer/musician extraordinaire, Roy Z).
I was admittedly rather gun-shy to sample Holy Hell, Rob’s third solo album in five years, as my musical tastes are generally drawn to a more visceral or bone-crushing Metal path, but I must admit I found myself genuinely pleased with much of what exuded from my speakers upon first listen. Holy Hell is easily Rob’s heaviest music to date, which certainly surprised me considering ¾ of the line-up consists of members from melodic Christian Hard Rock lightweights, Narnia, of whom I’ve never been a fan. As Holy Hell slowly unfolded, I found myself transformed back to the days when I first started dipping into the Metal pool and cranked bands like Chastain or Y&T from my bedroom as a youth. My history with bands of this ilk definitely added to my enjoyment of this album.
On to the music at hand. The first track, “Slayer of Souls”, comes ripping out of the gate with reckless abandon, and definitely knocks you into full attention. Based on the sheer balls of this first track, I thought I was in store for one hell of a Heavy Metal ride. Alas, to my slight disappointment, “Slayer of Souls” is definitely the heaviest ripper of the bunch. However, I’d be completely comfortable in saying 6 of the 10 songs on Holy Hell easily stand on their own as being solid, hard-driving Heavy Metal arias…pedal to the fucking metal. Head bangers such as “The Lion of Judah” and the title track are sure to bring me back time and again.
As for the remaining 4 songs, let’s just say they’re not my cup of tea. Two tracks, “Calling Angels”, and “I’m A Warrior” remind me quite a bit of later era Dokken due to their heavy nod towards late 80’s Hard Rock. Even Rob’s vocals seem to soften for these numbers, dulling the biting edge of the album as a whole for me. “I’ll Be Waiting for You”, and “Move On” (with guest appearance by Edguy's Tobias Sammet), are absolutely dismal attempts at ballads, and should be thrown into the deepest Abyss, never, ever to rise again.
To summarize, Holy Hell is an album for fans of the man, and fans of the genre. Those looking to experiment might find the harder hitting tracks enjoyable, but will possibly throw the album deep into the closet after the ballads hit. I’ll probably end up making a version minus the 4 tracks mentioned above for maximum enjoyment.
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