Burning Rain decide to Face The Music

To most people, the name Doug Aldrich is forever linked to Dio, Whitesnake and The Dead Daisies…however, if you go back to 1998, he had already linked up with singer Keith St. John and formed Burning Rain. Their limited debut release was well received, as was the follow up called Pleasure To Burn. Would they have achieved worldwide recognition if the phenomena that was Ronnie James Dio hadn’t recruited him for his band, or if after that he hadn’t joined the redoubtable David Coverdale in Whitesnake? Or, for that matter if he hadn’t spent time in the DD’s or Saints? By the way, while Doug was cavorting with RJD and DC, Keith St. John was just as busy working with the genius that was Ronnie Montrose and replaced Lenny Wolf in Kingdom Come. They did do a third album in 2013 called Epic Obsession, which didn’t set the world alight even though it was a high quality slice of melodic, heavy rock. In 2019 they Doug and Keith have again joined forces and have released their fourth album called, rather aptly, Face the Music.

This new work is a blues driven hard rock record with a new lineup featuring Blas Elias (Slaughter) on drums and bassist Brad Lang (Y&T). With Doug and Keith’s rock lineage, they have managed to evoke the sound of the classic 70’s hard rock whilst keeping a distinct identity…now, granted that identity will have people comparing them to Whitesnake and Dio and yes, there are plenty of references but that is more than understandable as Doug had a hand in some of their classics by contributing the riffs and solos that helped make those albums he appeared on. In saying that, he has changed his soloing style slightly and veers toward too widdly for me sometimes…after all we know he is more than capable of injecting feel and passion into his playing; it is still there, you just have to listen a bit more closely.

Opening with Revolution, the stall is se out from the first riff…powerful, heavy and well structured. Keith’s vocals suit this weight and he turns in a great performance with Doug’s guitar rampant. The next track, Lorelei, has ‘epic’ written all over it as the Dio style of riff and melody run nicely through all six plus minutes, with hints of Aerosmith occasionally showing through. The solo is widdly but preserves enough feel to make it enjoyable. Nasty Hustle is just that…a dirty and rapid riff with vocals again in tune. This is a decent rocker with a better-paced solo even though, ultimately, it is a bit rock by numbers you still have enough content to satisfy. Midnight Train has those hints of Aerosmith again, but it is one of those incurably catchy rock songs and thus, unsurprisingly, is the first single. A few lyrical and musical clichés inserted here and there with the inevitable “heavy metal thunder’ reference but none the worse for that and the solo has enough sustain and a tasty bridge to make it a good ‘un. Shelter is my current favourite with its acoustic lead-in bringing the blues that are always there across the album, right to the fore. When the full-blown electric occasionally cuts in, it is done with the blues still in mind…the piece de resistance is in the final minute as Doug plays single electric notes with feeling and effects. Title track, Face The Music, is back at full throttle with a Whitesnake (pre-hair metal) like riff and Keith vocals done a la Mr Coverdale. This is a really strong chunk of heavy blues-rock with a sing-a-long chorus and the solo stays the right side of widdle and uses the whole neck. Beautiful Road stays with the ‘Snake in a Still Of The Night kind of way, but with more of that Aerosmith swagger. One listen isn’t enough as you may be tempted to dismiss this as formulaic but, after a couple of run throughs, it takes on a different colour and grows on you. The solo this time is a mixture of perfect pace with only the occasional lapse into YJM land. Hit And Run is a strange one…starting nicely in blues-rock territory with a wonderful slide and, although the riff tends toward the grunge era, it is still proper rock and has nearly as many single entendres as DC! A slower ballad track is next as If It’s Love starts with a bluesy chug and develops into something ‘Snake would be proud of and, dare I say it, better than the recent tracks being aired from their forthcoming album. The vocals are excellent and the more restrained guitar strengthens the whole thing…the solo in particular illustrates how a few notes can be more effective. Hideaway is a rather descriptive title as this one has very different roots, albeit still in the blues vein. Here the band serve up what appears to me to be a Stones influenced blues-rocker, replete with the odd Jagger style approach (think Miss You) too and Doug excels on slide on a song that, again, needs more than one listen to fully appreciate. Closing track, Since I’m Loving You, has more than the title as a Zep reference as the riff evokes sonic images of latter day Led in quite a few ways. In part, to me at least, that makes this the least immediate and least enduring track of them all. So then, if you like heavy rock with blues underpinnings, then this is a damn good selection in a crowded market. Aldrich’s experience in so many great bands has obviously informed a lot of this album and his skill shines through. St. John is a damn good vocalist and is perfectly suited to the songs and lifts most of them beyond good. The rhythm section play their part too, to make an accomplished and polished collection.

SEVENpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Tracklisting:

  1. Revolution
  2. Lorelei
  3. Nasty Hustle
  4. Midnight Train
  5. Shelter
  6. Face The Music
  7. Beautiful Road
  8. Hit And Run
  9. If It’s Love
  10. Hideaway
  11. Since I’m Loving You

Musicians:

Doug Aldrich – Guitar

Keith St. John – Vocals

Brad Lang – Bass

Blas Elias – Drums

Burning Rain decide to Face The Music

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