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Released: 2011, Niji Entertainment Group
Reviewer: Robert Williams
After a twenty five year extended hiatus, the David "Rock" Feinstein fronted NYC three-piece, collectively known worldwide as The Rods have finally emerged with a brand new full length studio recording. Some of you might recall David "Rock" Feinstein from his days playing in Elf with his real life cousin Ronnie James Dio, who posthumously leaves his mark on this album with guest vocals on "The Code" in what would tragically wind up being one of his final recordings.
VENGEANCE released through Niji Entertainment, opens with the upbeat, hard rocking "Raise Some Hell" a blunt reminder that this trio of New Yorkers are still a metal force to be reckoned with. David "Rock" Feinstein let's loose a barrage of guitar solo wizardry. Some might say "Hey, It's 2011...Do we really need another song about raising hell?" Clearly, for those of the steel faith, the denim and leather clad crusaders of metal, the answer can only be a resounding "Yes...Yes I think we do." The next track "I Just Wanna Rock" is a simple, power chord driven anthemic rocker, cascading down the line under the steady bassline of Gary Bordonaro. This is the kind of stuff you can sing along with by the second chorus, should you catch the band in concert. "Ride Free Or Die" sounds dirty and mean enough to hold it's own among past biker metal standards from Motorhead and Saxon. Delivered gritty, from the streets and at times conjuring musical comparisons to Canadian power trio Anvil.
By all accounts, the centerpiece crown jewel of VENGEANCE is the album's fifth track "The Code" featuring one of the final recordings of the legendary Ronnie James Dio, who lent his much revered pipes to the band shortly before his untimely passing. "The Code" is undoubtedly the album's heaviest track, with slow decimating drums, crunching rhythm guitars and squealing pinch harmonics. Of course, Ronnie shines like only he could, blessing this record and those who hear it in the process with his godly and awe inspiring vocal prowess.
"Let It Ripp" rips out some seventies hard rock inspired riffery and some catchy vocal phrasing courtesy of David "Rock" Feinstein. Carl Canedy offers up some amazing double kick work as well. It's worth noting that VENGEANCE was produced by The Rods themselves, when you factor in Carl's past production credits (Anthrax, Jack Starr, Overkill, Exciter) it's a no brainer as to why this record sounds as good as it does. Actually, you might factor in David's production in particular as he is also credited with Executive Producer in the album's liner notes.
"Runnin Wild" is another cliched to death song title, but makes up for it in terms of overall speed and adrenaline. Another biker metal tune that is sure to be heard blaring from the tents of drunken Sturgis attendees. The album's title track "Vengeance" finishes off the listener with a thumping dose of heavy guitars and pounding drums. David's vocals are akin to that of a mean, lone gunslinger, tobacco stained teeth clinched, weathered Stetson hat covering his eyes, ready to draw his pistol and shoot you down at high noon. At least that's what the music makes me picture.
VENGEANCE is a welcomed return to form from the seasoned metal veterans that are The Rods. Great production, great batch of new tunes and of course the addition of Ronnie James Dio's guest vocals all make for an enjoyable listen for the discerning headbanger. Here's to hoping the follow up record won't take another quarter century!
1. Raise Some Hell
2. I Just Wanna Rock
3. Rebels Highway
4. Ride Free or Die
5. The Code
6. Livin' Outside the Law
7. Let it Ripp
8. Fight Fire With Fire
10. Runnin Wild
David "Rock" Feinstein - Vocals, Guitar
Garry Bordonaro - Bass, Vocals
Carl Canedy - Drums, Vocals
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