Wednesday, January 22, 2014

RED DRAGON CARTEL: "Red Dragon Cartel" (Jake E Lee)

Rating: RRR
Label: Frontiers 2014
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Red Dragon Cartel - the long awaited return of former Ozzy and Badlands guitarist Jake E Lee. No doubt one of the more exciting guitar heroes of the 80s and the Las Vegas flashy six-string bender is finally ready to take on the world with the power of wicked licks and party tricks after a long hiatus. The self-titled debut at Frontiers Records came together with the help of Las Vegas friend Ronnie Mancuso (Beggars and Thieves) and speak generally of melodic heavy rock and metal in the style of the late 90s sound.

It's neither pop nor brutal metal and there's definitely not a lot of the blues melodies ála Badlands or Ozzy riffs to be found within these tracks. Opening track, "Deceived", one of few moments in the old guitar shredding mood and attitude. It's merely a shame that vocalist Darren James Smith a.k.a. the former drummer of Harem Scarem, give raspy a bad name as he huff and puff along to the melody during the verse. This became extra obvious when Cheap Trick legend Robin Zander guest appears as lead vocalist on the excellent rock of "Feeder".

The next track, "Fall from The Sky", the excellent Alice in Chains-light ballad. However, those lead vocals during the verse, awww, they make Paul Di'Anno (ex-Iron Maiden) sound like friggin' Barry Manilow on the following sing-a-long, "Wasted". Great party song though. "Slave" remind us of KISS during Carnival of Souls and I really enjoy Lee's tone and biting guitar work here. "Big Mouth", stomp metal feat. lead vocals by Maria Brink from In This Moment, while "War Machine" brings back the sound of Ozzy and Black Sabbath. Sass Jordan guest appears on "Redeem Me" with plenty of soul and blues in her voice as always.

Lee's trademark style shines throughout the album and merely the lack of killer vocals makes us shy away from giving it more R's...

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