Style: Heavy Metal
Release Date: 8 May 2020
Sites: Facebook | Metal Archives | Official Website
Paul Shortino isn't the only American rock legend to be putting out an album under his surname in 2020. Here's one from Carl Canedy, drummer and vocalist for the traditional heavy metal band, the Rods, who put out their debut back in 1980. Their rise, fall and rise is ably detailed within the title track's lyrics: "I fought the Heavy Metal Wars until the Grunge King came and shut my heavy metal doors." But later: "From as far away as Europe, we have heard the cry. It seems their love for what we did then, it never really died."
And, while this is American heavy metal, tried and true, it may well play to the European audience better. I actually like it more than The Rods album I reviewed mid-last year, perhaps partly because it doesn't feel as cheesy and on the occasions that it does, it feels heartfelt, like the title track: "I see my brothers coming, axes gleaming, tuned and true. Once more, I hear the drum beat, and I find my way to you."
It also feels like a real band release, unlike the Shortino album. And that somehow holds true even though Canedy remains the drummer in the Rods, while the other musicians here used to be a band of their own, Totally Lost Cause, presumably with a different drummer. What's more, Canedy's new lead vocalist is Mike Santarsiero, who is also now the lead vocalist with the Rods. It's a tortuous web but the result sounds great here. I hope the recent changes are good ones for the Rods too.
I haven't heard Totally Lost Cause, but this is heavier than it sounds like they ever were and not just because of Charles Russello's crunchy guitar sound and Canedy's thunderous and ever-reliable drums. I particularly enjoyed the evil bass of Tony Garuba on the opener, Do It Now. This is a good mix, which isn't surprising from Canedy, but a staccato drum approach to parts of the song gives Garuba some great moments. It's far from the fastest track I've ever heard Canedy play but it works well as a statement of intent.
Some of the remaining songs add a more commercial edge than I remember from the Rods, Not Even Love and Attia springing quickly to mind, but they're not light because of it. They're still heavy, just with an extra coat of polish, manifested through thoughtful riffing, imaginative drumming and a versatile vocal performance from Santarsiero. He simply has more range than the three members of the Rods, who divvied up vocal duties on last year's album while also playing their own instruments. That said, Garuba does a fantastic vocal job on Hellride, even if it's a more limited, almost rap-based approach than Santarsiero's wider voice.
Most importantly, it feels like the band really cared about this album, one of the gimmes that has to be in place to make a good one. I didn't feel that last year with the Rods's Brotherhood of Metal, which did contain some good material but felt like a retread of old ground rather than a burning desire to create something new. This feels much more like what that could have been and it gets better on repeat listens.
While little bits of this stand out immediately, like the fantastic intro to Hellride, each song elevates itself on a second listen. Lies in particular I glossed over a little on a first time through but couldn't fail to notice it on a second. It's a peach of a track, more complex than many here but never overly so. And, like Lies, these songs don't have high price of entry but do have a fantastic return on investment. After one listen, this was obviously good stuff but, after two, I was hooked.
As Santarsiero sings on Warrior, "But the wise men all say, 'Everything that was gone will be coming around, one more time, again at last!'" I'm glad to see Canedy back on top form, playing traditional heavy music that once more has an audience, and I'm looking forward not only to his next solo album but the new Rods record too. It looks like it'll be called Shockwave and it's on the way.