HardReviews 3
by Martin Popoff

PAT TRAVERS
Fidelis (Alexus)

Fidelis finds Canuck (but Florida-based) guitar hero Pat Travers magically in that nexus between the driving melodic hard rock of Radioactive and personal fave Black Pearl, and his latter years blues focus. That would be enough right there, but man, vaulting this o'er the top is the huge and unexpected soul of Pat's vocals here in late career, buttressed with the huge groove of his band and the rich warmth of the production. But the songs, basically blues-informed hard rock not unlike a disciplined Black Crowes, are deep of dimension, surrounded by tradition and yet ironically astonishingly innovative given the idea of marrying pop hooks with the blues, a hard nut to crack. This is all so wondrously prevalent and evident in the weirdly Zep-ish 'Tear Of Love' and the New Orleans-giddy opening track 'Ask Me Baby'. Elsewhere, 'Then I'll Fall' rides a hugely addictive funk metal groove, a groove that appears at other speeds elsewhere on this record, and mostly quite hard to compare to anything, except perhaps Glenn Hughes' hot-clockin' solo albums of the past few years or even Chickenfoot (if they could write haf as good as this). And the dynamics are massive, each of these unknowns (please keep this band!), playing heroically, even on the ballads, which… you barely notice they are ballads because they are so filled up with life. All told, there are 11 tracks and only one clunker, the closing 'So Missing You' being a literal cakewalk blues, the kind of thing we'd get a half dozen of on the Pat's lost years records. But yeah, very pleasantly surprised at how joyful and spirited this thing sounds – in a way off world, Fidelis would smash us for five singles through the course of an 18 month world tour.
Rating 8.5

HEADCHARGER
The End Starts Here (XII BIS)

French band down a Nashville Pussy/American Dog/Speedealer/Danko Jones/Volbeat pathway, Headcharger create quite a drinking man's stomach churn, but alas, one becomes distracted by the guy's French-inflected English, less so when he screams his head off mind you. 'Breathe Out' and 'Down My Neck' are killer though, reminding one of the magic of early Fatal Smile. All told, this is pretty heavy stuff, heading toward Artimus Pyledriver at times, even though dirty Motorhead-corrupted blues is never far from the core of the smash 'n' grab this band executes.
Rating 6.5

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