Tuesday 5 March 2019

Rock Goddess - This Time (2019)

Country: UK
Style: Heavy Metal
Rating: 6/10
Release Date: 22 Feb 2019
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I'm really digging the fact that a lot of bands from way back in the day are recording new material. I've reviewed strong albums by Jetboy and Tora Tora lately, not to mention Rosy Vista's debut about three decades late. Now I'm enjoying the new Rock Goddess album, no less than thirty-two years after the last one, which was only ever released in France anyway.

Rock Goddess were an odd band back in the eighties for a couple of reasons. One is that, like Girlschool, every member of the band was female but they wore leather and kicked ass, rather than strip down to their underwear and play up their sex appeal on album covers and pin up posters. The other is that they weren't exactly old. Jody and Julie Turner, the founding sisters, were thirteen and nine when they formed Rock Goddess in 1977 and the latter was still a fifteen year old schoolgirl on their first couple of albums.

Because neither of those things is a problem and they wrote damn good songs, they did well for themselves, touring with Iron Maiden and Def Leppard and even co-headlining with Y&T, but they were gone by the end of the eighties. I'm happy to see that they're back, the Turner sisters now accompanied by Jenny Lane on bass as a power trio, and I'm especially happy to see a new album.

The biggest problem This Time has is obvious from moment one and it's poor production. It sounds like they recorded this in a cupboard with an extra-sensitive mike on the cymbals. It's often hard to distinguish the bass and the guitar too, which feels strange. Oddly, it kind of fits the approach, as this material is very much in the same NWOBHM flavour they sold so well back in 1983 and production back then sucked so often. Of course, Rock Goddess had Chris Tsangarides for Hell Hath No Fury, but hey.

The songs here are better than the production, even if the album's opener, Are You Ready? is the cheesy statement song we might expect. They're back in town and it's like they've never been away. Yeah, we get it. And, while it sounds really sarcastic to say it like that, we are very happy indeed about it. Now get on with the album.

Obsession is the first standout song, led by a neat bass-driven groove that sounds rather familiar (it took me a while, but is that the bridge from Burn in Hell by Twisted Sister?), but it gets neatly under the skin anyway. The last half minute could be the music behind a demonic perfume ad. Obsession by Satan's Succubi of Paris. That would sell!

It takes a while to find another one, but everything in between sounds fine in the meantime. Tracks like Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right are stripped down, no nonsense songs that do their jobs and promptly give way for the next. Calling to Space adds a more overt vocal, a catchier chorus and a circular riff that builds the song nicely. Flying to See You drops the drums midway for a laid back section that features some strong vocal interplay. None of these songs do anything that hasn't been done before, but they're enjoyable anyway. The end of the album has a little softness to it but the band never descends to ballad level; they're just setting up contrasts.

Why Do We Never Learn? is my other favourite song here. It feels angrier and more aggressive than anything else on the album, perhaps fuelled by all the years in which Rock Goddess should have been rocking our world but weren't because everyone was off doing other things. It's led by a rumbling bass and a neat riff, like a thundercloud is chasing us but we have to stop because the storm sounds so good.

The musical landscape has seen so many changes since the prior Rock Goddess album in 1987 that it's almost unrecognisable, but they've hardly changed a note. They're doing exactly what they did in 1983 and whether that sounds good to you or not will determine whether this is an essential purchase or something you're not going to understand in 2019.

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