Wednesday, 27 January 2021

The Dead Daisies - Holy Ground (2021)

Country: Australia
Style: Hard Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 22 Jan 2021
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David Lowy isn't the most likely candidate to create a supergroup, given that, until 2012, he was more known for being a businessman—with over a decade as the managing director of the Westfield Group, which operates shopping centres in nine different countries—and an aviator—he's an Australian Aerobatic Champion and the founder of the Temora Aviation Museum. But hey, he's no slouch on the guitar and a string of names have been more than happy to join a revolving line-up in his band, the Dead Daisies, which he put together and is the only remaining founder member in.

In addition to Lowy, the line-up on this album includes two current members of Revolution Saints and an old favourite as a new fish. The pair are guitarist Doug Aldrich, who's played with Dio, Whitesnake and House of Lords, among others, and drummer Deen Castronovo, formerly of Bad English, Journey and Wild Dogs, among others. The old favourite is Glenn Hughes, who has an almost unparallelled CV with names such as Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Trapeze, not to forget Black Country Communion, his other current supergroup. He's here not only on the expected vocals but on bass too.

As you might imagine from names like them, the performances are seamless and comfortable. This is a patient hard rock album with its roots in the seventies and eighties but sounding very contemporary, as a New Wave of Classic Rock band should. The production is crunchy, so the guitars and drums seem heavy and the bass is easily found, not just on the excellent Like No Other (Bassline), in which it plays the lead role that title suggests. Hughes, possessed of an old school soulful rock voice, also chants his lyrics frequently here, helping it to sound modern.

None of these songs stood out for me on a first listen. The album sounded good but it also sounded a bit generic. This doesn't sound like any band so much as it sounds like all of them distilled together. I would catch some Bad Company here, some Led Zeppelin there and some Deep Purple after that, but without any song actually sounding like any of those bands. It's just in the style of a riff or shake of a tambourine, like all the influences are inherently always there in the band's DNA but don't separate easily. Perhaps Bustle and Flow is a little more AC/DC, My Fate a little more Whitesnake and 30 Days in the Hole a little more like the Faces, but you would never mistake those songs for those bands.

All of these songs stood out for me on a second listen, which is unusual. I'm used to albums that take a little time to sink in and songs that need a second time through to pop. I'm not used to ones where every song pops on the second shot and it makes me wonder if the problem was me last night. Maybe I just wasn't in the mindset for this at the time but I am today, because it didn't work for me then and it does now. What sounded generic then sounds like a consistent Dead Daisies sound now that takes a lot from other bands but distils it all into a sound that's just them. It's all perspective.

My favourite songs are the ones that are a little looser and haven't had the edges polished off them. Like No Other (Bassline) feels like the whole band is having a lot of fun. Bustle and Flow plays each of them off each other very well. Unspoken gifts Hughes with lots of opportunity and he takes it, as the band nails emphasis shifts around him gloriously. The midsection is a fantastic breakdown too, going down to almost nothing before kicking back in. This band is tight and recommended.

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