Reviewed: May 2021
Released: April 2021, Frontiers Records S.R.L.
Reviewer: Buddy H
There are certain dynamic duos in life that are just meant to be together: Batman and Robin, Mac and Cheese, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Ren and Stimpy, Plant and Page, etc… One important duo that should, without a doubt, be added to that list is Lynch and Pilson. When these two legendary musicians get together, magic ensues. With The End Machine’s sophomore effort, PHASE 2, this magic is on full display from start to finish.
There is a natural tendency to compare anything Lynch and Pilson create to the glorious Dokken masterpieces from the 80’s. Likewise, it is also inevitable that anything Lynch does will get compared to Lynch Mob. Let’s address the obvious questions right from the get-go: No, this does not sound like Dokken. No, this does not sound like Lynch Mob. Yes, this is better than their debut. FAR BETTER!
The late great George Carlin once said, “I’ll tell you a little secret about the Blues: it’s not enough to know which notes to play, you have to know why they need to be played.” That logic definitely applies to the music of PHASE 2. Every single sound, note, and passage in each song is placed there for a reason. The songwriting reflects the maturity of these genius composers. The songs dictate exactly what is needed at all times and everyone in the band delivers masterfully. Robert Mason’s vocals are absolutely otherworldly. Trust me when I say that he is marvelous on this album. Like a fine wine, he truly only gets better with age. New drummer Steve Brown, brother of “Wild” Mick Brown, plays with conviction and a renewed energy and is a perfect fit. Pilson’s bass is thunderous and prominent throughout the album and his voice blends with Mason’s beautifully to create thick rich anthemic backing vocals. And, of course, Lynch is just Lynch. What more needs to be said about this guitar god? There are “Lynchisms” throughout the entire album: ominous flat 5 chord voicings, melodic fills, and trademark staccato/legato leads.
This album is best listened to when it can be given undivided attention. Every song delivers something new with each subsequent listen. As expected, there are no bad tunes in this extraordinary collection. At the moment, stand out tracks include the blistering opener “Blood and Money”, the atmospheric hook laden “Dark Divide”, the Lynchy goodness of “Crack the Sky” and the emotionally driven “Scars”.
With PHASE 2, The End Machine have delivered one of the best pure hard rock albums in recent memory. It stands head and shoulders above its predecessor. The vocals are soaring. The rhythmic section is impeccable. And, of course, Lynch continues to deliver year after year and album after album. With such a sprawling catalogue of work between all these renowned musicians, to be able to create something that feels this fresh and original is astounding. PLEASE give this album a listen!
Guaranteed, this will be a major player for top spot in my Best Of 2021.
1. The Rising
2. Blood And Money
3. We Walk Alone
4. Dark Divide
5. Crack The Sky
6. Prison Or Paradise
7. Plastic Heroes
9. Shine Your Light
10. Devils Playground
11. Born Of Fire
Robert Mason – Lead Vocals
George Lynch – Lead and Rhythm Guitar
Jeff Pilson – Bass Guitar, Vocals
Steve Brown – Drums