Friday, 10 August 2012

Review: Fozzy - Sin and Bones

 I really don't know if this makes me any cooler or more lame, but I could not tell you the first thing about professional wrestling. I know it's something of a desperate go to if everything on TV is terrible, but nothing more. So when Atlanta metal quintet Fozzy started to gain some notoriety, talk of the group being fronted by Chris Jericho came thick and fast. Never would I have realised that this talk was coming from the fact that the frontman of this band was a professional wrestler and as soon as I found that out, my main thoughts on what Fozzy's music would be like was hook filled metal songs that would be effective to work out to. Yup.

 This is probably an instant turn off to many a listener, since the kind of metal you could work out to instantly translates of generic and Über-mainstream. If that's the case, I can only imagine you don't work out enough. I may not look it, but I like to visit my local gym when I can and I know from personal experience that bands like Disturbed and Five Finger Death Punch are a blessing for working out. As unsophisticated as their music is, having a band like The Teardrop Explodes or My Dying Bride would kill you. So, in this instant what better to have than music you can gain strength to that is packed with charisma and personality from Jericho, one of the most knowledgeable metalheads ever and bold frontmen of modern times? Fozzy's fifth album Sin and Bones gives you that with a little extra for your money.

 Well, with the power of the steel plated riffage from Rich "The Duke" Ward and Billy Grey that ignites the album as soon as opener Spider in My Mouth kicks into action (which follows an unfortunate attempt to make Itsy Bitsy Spider scary), there's a high package of adrenaline to be found across the album, whether it comes out in the frantic urgency with which the title track is delivered, the bold anthemic power of Shine Forever, or the ridiculous amount of fun put into the glam hair metal soaked choruses of She's My Addiction that screams Def Leppard without even trying. Undoubtedly, Fozzy want their music to have as much strength as their muscular frontman.

 Speaking of whom, Chris Jericho proves himself to be on good form, in terms of performing with a high level of vibrancy and charisma. A Passed Life easily shows off the dynamic ability in which he can perform, as his vocals open with the delivery of a blues ridden reflective tone which builds into a thrilling set of upbeat melodies, while his crunching harmonies with Avenged Sevenfold's M. Shadows on lead single Sandpaper shows off a shared ability to create a vocal line that manages to uplift and carry a real amount of girth at the same time, much as Shadows has proved throughout his time in A7X. With this considered, Jericho's performance also comes with it's imperfections. As solid a song as Blood Happens is, it's very much ruined by Jericho's attempts of doing death growls, that simply sound sloppy and created without much thought or preparation.

 Of course, so far I've talked about Fozzy's music being only a great source of songs to work out to. But there's much more thought crafted into Sin and Bones than that. Inside My Head leans a lot on the more blues based side of hard rock music, which sees the band travel more down the root of trying to make a feel good ballad. While showing a more sensitive side to their music, it also sounds like something that just belongs in the 1980's and shouldn't be allowed to travel in any other decade. More importantly is the album's closer Storm the Beaches. Correct me if I'm wrong, but of all the very mainstream hard rock bands that have chosen to put their songs over the five minute mark, Avenged Sevenfold have been the bravest with their City of Evil album, so the idea of a band of a similar caliber ending their album with an eleven minute song was curious at first, but on Storm the Beaches, Fozzy actually pull this off, making use of a Steve Harris-like galloping bassline to lead their D-Day inspired charge of heavy metal into action. However, if it does anything once more, it proves that Fozzy shouldn't try and get too emotional. Jericho's opening to the song of reading a fake extract from a soldier's diary in a poetic style is all too cringeworthy.

 So, like a successful wrestling match from Chris Jericho, Sin and Bones has it's hits and misses, but the amount of hits outweighs the misses and leads the album to achieving victory in the form of some kind of belt or something. Packed with a selection of knockout hooks delivered on stony guitar riffs, the heaviness the band play with is delivered in it's most pulsing form. The album has it's weaknesses without a doubt, especially when symphonic elements are added to the mix which honestly come off as tacky. However, the strength of the album in the face of these moments ultimately make Sin and Bones a fully solid listen, that will make Chris Jericho noticed off of the wrestling ring more than ever and will make the music of Fozzy something that will start to make it's appearances in the gym more frequent but also more frequent out of the confinements of treadmills, rowing machines, bikes and endless amounts of weights.

Fozzy's Sin and Bones is out 14th August via Century Media. The band will tour the UK in November with Soil and Breed 77

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