TRIUMPH-Live At Sweden Rock Festival
Ha ha, man, they look exactly the same, which is inspiring in itself. No, here the acrimony is put aside as Triumph strikes a rare reunion pact for one of the world's main situations where this sort of thing magically happens, sunny Sweden Rock, the biggest old school metal lovefest on the planet. Both drummer Gil Moore and guitarist Rik Emmett are singing their usual high, histrionic and strong, on these bombastic songs of inspiration and hope, some like elephantine progressive power ballads, others not much more aspirational than heavy Kiss or Ted Nugent, but arriving late by three or four years into the early '80s. There's tight, neat logo graphics behind the boys on this daytime set, adding to the geometry of seeing these three guys (with a fourth, but downplayed), deliver one of the tightest and best recorded sets of their live career. Knock them all you want for their cheesy songs, Sweden Rock demonstrates that Triumph's rhythm section is better than ever, there's no problem with the singing, and Rik can still think like a hard rocker when he wants. Great camera angles, and slow an' smart enough editing adds to the relaxing vibe of these non-challenging songs, but again, it's the heavy guitar sound and fat bass that really slams this set into a package without fault. Highlights: well, I'd have to go with the thematic suite 'Lay It One The Line', 'Magic Power', 'Never Surrender' and 'Lay It On The Line', those four comprising Triumph's most substantial and unique proposal to the world, a refreshingly gauche form of "stadium rock ballad."
AMERICAN DOG-Poison Smile
Columbus biker rock rednecks American Dog keep cranking out the high-octane classic metal, only this time there's a new drummer joining Steve "Thick Tone" Theado and Michael "Uncle Salty" Hannon. The man dropped into the kegger is Michael "Hazard" Harris, and whether it is he or producer Joe Viers or Sonic Lounge Studios in magnificent Grove City, there's a bite to the bottom end that propels this thing like a mailman chased by the three hyenas on the molten-hot cover. Weirdly, I think the album's best songs fill up the back half of the album, which is always a good sign of a stayer, although far an' above fave is 'Old Dog, New Tricks' followed closely by 'Bathroom Romance' where Hannon rocks the chorus through the will of his shouty vocals and endless sleazy story-telling. Steve's riffs reverberate from Deadly Tedly to Joe Perry and back again, with bluesy solos often wah-wah'ed like Iommi, again, pushing American Dog to the top of the tough biker rock realm, somewhere between BLS, Motorhead and the dirty hair metal from '90 to '92, or kinda like Nashville Pussy's heaviest material played by serious rock veterans. Again, late in the sequence, another gem emerges in 'Splinterin' Sally' which is a pedal-to-the-metal intensification of Ted's 'Sweet Sally' (and then Ted's actually quoted on the last track's sloe-jam section), while 'Off The Chain' display's Steve's effortless hot licks, again, the perfect aggressive twinning to Hannon's tales of life in a hurry to hit whatever's in the next town over.
Hard Reviews Page 5