An Appointment With Death (Metal Blade)
Starwood was a departure, Deal With The Devil a halfways return calling card, but Appointment With Death is a thick, layered, ambitious record that I'd have to class as my favourite of an often rockscrabble catalogue. Lizzy is in fine LA shock rock form - you'd have to say that Blackie and Borden alone kind of own this decadent space between power and hair metal and strip mall junk while California burns. The result here is a seemingly impossible yet substantial meal of fiery guitar heroics within complicated songs, while holler-along anthemic choruses and loads of melody fall out of the mix. It's like Ratt or the best of Dokken meets Brainstorm, Falconer and Edguy. Lizzy then raises the ante even more through his best graphics ever, a new painted up image for the band, a smart concept album about death, and then invitations sent out to the likes of Dave Meniketti, Erik Rutan, George Lynch, Cory Beaulieu and Jack Frost. The production is a bit synthetic and ProTooly, and at times the song structures are a little smothering - layered vocals, twin leads, a profusion of riffs and colourings give up so much ear candy, one comes away clutching one's belly that Halloween is a year away again.
Reloaded (Dixiefrog/Harmonia Mundi)
Legendary Texas twisters Point Blank plowed the same furrows as similar unsungs Hydra, both being at the heavier end of classic southern rock, not as far into the riffs as Blackfoot, but still loud an' proud. Oddly, Point Blank were best known for their 'Highway Star' cover, even if their originals reminded one of the fine ZZ Top of their brown album period. In any event, the band reformed in 2005 for this gorgeous-of-tone live album (and have been semi-active ever since), beautifully rendered in digipak form but also warm and guitar-starry of sound. Many early classics are on offer (and there's something from every album), but there's a real, cogent unifying theme around bluesier numbers. Damn if 'Uncle Ned' and 'Lone Star Fool' don't sound like the live side of Fandango! crossed with Wishbone Ash and Groundhogs on a high octane tip. Cool to hear that John O'Daniel has kept his twang, and this rhythm section is hot, but again, the best and most drinkable thread throughout has got to be the rich tone out of Rusty Burns and his trusty axe. Personally would have prefered a heavier set (closing two numbers are anti-climactic - ha ha, where's 'Highway Star'?), but the intimacy of this gig and the exchange of love cannot be denied.
Hard Reviews Page 3