George Lynch must be one of the busiest musicians from the original glam metal scene out there. He has played on three albums in 2015 alone (this album, a project titled Shadow Train and a collaboration album with Stryper’s Michael Sweet) and, while I can’t talk about Shadow Train because I haven’t heard it yet, I CAN confirm that Sweet & Lynch’s Only to Rise was an early highlight of the year for me.
Yet, to most people who aren’t already familiar with Lynch Mob, the only reason his name is likely to ring a bell is in connection to Dokken, a band which he hasn’t even been part of for over a decade. Which is pretty unfair, as Lynch Mob’s first record was pretty highly regarded when it came out and it still is regarded as an underrated gem of the glam metal scene. Mind you, Lynch Mob’s career isn’t exactly free of bad decisions, of which the most obvious is probably 1999’s rap metal-influenced Smoke This, so maybe there’s a reason for that which isn’t entirely down to Lynch being connected to Dokken!
But that’s not what we’re here to discuss: what we are looking at is their upcoming record, Rebel. Which, I have to say…I expected a lot more from.
One of the things I will give credit for is that the album is a lot heavier than you might expect from a glam metal act. This isn’t entirely unexpected if you’re familiar with Dokken’s music at all (‘Mr.Scary’ from Dokken’s Back for the Attack probably could have told you that), but, even factoring in modern production making metal music sound heavier than it did in the 80’s, the album has some surprisingly heavy guitar riffs that, while not going near extreme metal territory, are still heavy enough to make it more appealing to fans of traditional heavy metal (‘Sanctuary’ springs to mind). If you’re the sort of person who usually gives glam metal a miss due to finding it too light for your taste, this might actually be closer to your kind of thing than you’d be expecting.
I also think the songwriting is generally fairly good. I think Sweet & Lynch’s songwriting is still better than what is on display on Rebel, but there’s more of an edge here to the songwriting which will make it appeal to people who like some of the less mainstream glam metal acts out there (like Skid Row). It’s also worth mentioning that George Lynch spends a good amount of the album proving that age hasn’t weakened his guitar playing skills, so fans of guitar playing in general will probably appreciate the album due to Lynch’s skills being on fairly prominent display across the album.
There’s one major problem for me, though: Oni Logan’s vocals. I don’t mean to be a jerk by saying this, as I respect that he is an important part of the legacy of Lynch Mob and some people will disagree strongly with this statement, but I never really liked him as a vocalist much. Maybe it’s because I’m more used to hearing vocalists like Sebastian Bach when I hear heavier glam metal albums (so, rougher voices than you’d expect from the more polished styles of glam metal), but Logan’s voice on Wicked Sensation just left me thinking that his voice is a bit too clean for what Lynch Mob were aiming for and that same kind of thing bugs me here, as he sounds more like he should be singing stuff with a bit of blues influence to it over glam metal, which makes some of the more glam influenced lyrics sound rather awkward coming from him. On top of that, I think Logan’s voice has suffered A LOT from age, as I just couldn’t stop thinking that he sounded like his voice was a bit too old for this sort of music due to how worn out it sounded. I’m not saying that Logan IS old, but his voice certainly didn’t mix with Lynch Mob’s music very well due to how it sounded. Maybe long time fans of Lynch Mob will be able to appreciate his performance (and, if so, good for you!), but, for me personally, I think the record might have been more enjoyable had someone else been singing on it, as I found the record a real challenge to listen to due to his vocals.
Still, not counting Logan’s vocals, I did actually really appreciate the performances on the record. While most will easily find Lynch to be the highlight of the album on the performance front, I do think that bassist Jeff Pilson (who is also an ex-member of Dokken, Dio and currently part of Foreigner, among other projects) and drummer Brian Tichy (who has done drumming for Whitesnake, Foreigner, Billy Idol and Ozzy Osbourne, among others) do very well on the album as well, although I wouldn’t call their performances technically impressive by any measure. They do what they need to do and they do it well.
The production is mostly pretty good. The bass is a bit quieter than I personally would like, but it’s still fairly audible, so credit to Chris “the Wizard” Collier for not burying the bass guitar in his work on the album (he is credited with pre-production, engineering, mixing and mastering in relation to the album, so most of my comments probably should go to him on this one). I think the mastering might be a bit on the loud sound, so people concerned about their ears or not keen on the loudness war trend might want to be aware of this fact before they dive into the album, but it’s definitely not the worst offender I’ve come across in this aspect, so it’s more a minor complaint overall than a major issue for me.
Ultimately, I think that I really should like this album a lot more than I actually do. The instrument performances are very good, the songwriting is solid, there’s an edge to it which shows that Lynch Mob still have some good tricks up their sleeve and even the production is pretty good if you don’t mind the loudness war trend. Unfortunately, it just didn’t come together to become something I really liked. I’m going to be kind and say that Lynch Mob fans should still check this out, as it does have a lot of stuff about it which is recommendable, but everyone else might want to check out the singles first before giving this a look into and judge accordingly.
Rebel will be released on the 21st of August on Frontier Records. A promo copy of this album was provided for review purposes.