Monday, January 9, 2012
UFO - Seven Deadly
Anyone who has ever loved the sound of a crushing electric riff, a perfect melody, a rousing chorus, rough-hew, soulful vocals, or a guitar solo so freaking fast and dynamic that it makes your eyeballs water, needs no introduction to UFO. After more than 40 years in the business, these crazy Brits have earned their place in the honored halls of rock and roll, both for their music and their mad antics. So let's cut to the chase shall we.
UFO's last album, The Visitor was, without a doubt, the best UFO album since the band reformed with Vinnie Moore for You Are Here, which was the best UFO album since the short-lived Schenker reunion Walk On Water, which in turn was the best UFO album since the vastly under-rated Paul "Tonka" Chapman days. You want it shorter than that? The Visitor was one great rock and roll record, and it deserved to climb right up there near the top of UFO's vast cannon of great albums.
But you can't please everybody. I heard some people complaining that it didn't "sound" like a UFO record. Too bluesy. Not riffy and rocky enough. Whine, whine, whine.
Welcome to Seven Deadly.
As if in direct response to these "critics" (people who refuse to let a band grow in whichever direction they choose, but no, they MUST sound the way I want them to!), UFO come raging back with the latest installment in the Vinnie Moore-era UFO, and they sound positively pissed. Reinvigorated since the joining of Moore, UFO sound re-energized here, like they've somehow unlocked the code and opened the fricking rock-and-roll fountain of youth. Bustling with energy, punch, and verve. Ready to rock the shit outta you or kick your face in. You choose which.
There's still a now-familiar blues-y vibe to the album but there's also a string of pure, kick-to-the-balls rocking.
The jump in adrenaline is evident from the very first track. "Fright Night," kicks off with a straight-forward, simple-yet-mean, riff that cuts right through the mix, like the kinda riff UFO have explored so successfully in the past on songs like "Too Hot To Handle," or "Only You Can Rock Me." Think of this song following in the same vein, and from there I promise you, I will make no more references to UFO songs of the past. It's the easiest thing to do, refer back to some song on Lights Out or Obsession for reference, but the truth is, this album is so strong it should be the point of reference for future albums. Mogg's voice layers on top of the sounding more textured, more soulful, more plaintive than in recent memory. This is full-on charging UFO, crushing riffs held together tightly by an instantly catchy melody, all leading up to that chorus that will just lift you right outta your chair and in this case, thank God for salvation.
Moore's guitar work is dead on. Moore is a shredder in the best sense of the word, and most importantly, fully adept at melody. When he wants to bust out, he can wail into a jaw dropping solo, notes flying faster than spit flying from an auction barker's mouth. Then he can drop into a perfect acoustic passage, shoot off some harmonics or crush your cerebellum with the strength of his riffs. Moore's tone isn't so much reminiscent of Schenker as it is more indicative of the classic UFO sound, and yes, the band has been around long enough to declare that they have a sound all their own. God bless em.
UFO without Schenker was always a dicey affair (except for the previously mentioned Chapman years) because Mogg needs that guitar energy to set his songs ablaze. At the same time, Schenker showed us with his solo career that he needed Mogg's sense of craft and melody to create a memorable tune. It was that combative chemistry that always fueled the band's best work, and with Moore in place, Mogg seems once and for all to have found that perfect foil. Power and melody. Sizzling chops and structure. Perfect. Absolutely fucking perfect.
"Wonderland," spits out next with a fast-paced rocker in the "Lights Out" vein. Spirited and mean, this song absolutely chugs with passion, belying the boys advancing years. Moore comes up with a closed-fist attack of a riff, the band is tight as the glue holding Donald Trumps toupee in place, and Mogg proves once and for all that he's lost none of his fight or passion. Play this one live and it woulda fit comfortably on their classic Strangers in the Night. A future classic UFO song, one that our children will one day ask us if we remember it when it first came out. Then, lest you think the boys are blowing their wad too early, "Mojo Town," tears out on the back of a fierce and twisted blues riff. Mogg sounds great, reminding us once and for all that he's always been one of rock's most unheralded vocalists. Moore's tone is dead-on, and I'll tell you, the return of "no neck" Andy Parker on the drums seems to be the final ingredient necessary to drive these chaps over the top. The only ingredient missing was the presence of legendary bass player, Pete Way.
"Angel Station," follows next, in the absolutely classic UFO power-ballad vein, like "Out on the Streets." Delicately plucked strings start it off amongst a symphonic background, then the whole thing explodes into a melodic guitar ballad that could make a grown man cry. Paul Raymond's work, always the glue that held the band together, fills in here, leading the track into perfect hard rock territory. Melodic rock for the ages, by one of the bands to first create the genre. Power and beauty all wrapped up into one track.
"Year of the Gun," jumps right back into the Mississippi swamp, while "The Last Stone Rider," nails a down-and-dirty mutated, menacing blues number. Another standout track, Mogg sounds positively charged here. "Steal Yourself" is a ballsy blues-rock attack and a killer album cut, while "Burn Your House Down," rocks with a dark menace, smoldering under the intense melody. "The Fear" is another pure nitro distorted blues assault with some tasty harmonica licks and rollicking guitar.
And the album continues from there all the way to "Waving Good Bye," a gentle closer, the band mounting their horses and riding off into the sunset. Although I gotta say, I'm a bit disconcerted by Mogg's very final lyric line. His last line on the entire album. "I'm saying good bye, for the very last time." Let's hope that's not a not-so-hidden message for the future.
For all those naysayers out there who claim that UFO haven't unleashed a great album since Walk On Water, open your ears. Here's another brand new, fresh burst of classic UFO. Building upon their past, not revisiting it.
Misty green and blue forever.