The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world




JANUARY 24 2014

Jake E Lee is finally back, is it worth the wait?...



Tracklisting: Deceived; Shout It Out; Feeder (featuring Robin Zander); Fall From The Sky (Seagull); Wasted (featuring Paul Di’Anno); Slave; Big Mouth (featuring Maria Brink); War Machine; Redeem Me (featuring Sass Jordan); Exquisite Tenderness.

This of course was always going to be interesting at the very least. Guitarist Jake E Lee had been away so long holed up in Vegas somewhere that everyone was beginning to wonder if we would ever see him again. Of course over the years there had been moments when it looked like he would resurface – notably adding guitar to Enuff Z’Nuff’s Dissonance album in 2008 but nothing ever came of it. The fact is now he is back and in the storm of pre-publicity that foreshadowed this release – all poor live performances and questioning the quality of the material: it did the trick – now everyone know he’s back.

Living with the album a week now I can honestly say it’s not going to change your world, on the other hand it’s not as bad as some people have been telling us either. If anything the debut Red Dragon Cartel album sounds very much like a band getting to know each other. Many of the songs are pretty good and those that aren’t going to blow you away sound like solid ideas that perhaps could have just used a bit more cooking. The guitar of course it at times enough to pull you over the line.

Getting down to business what we have here is an album of rockers and moodier pieces – it is of course neither  Badlands nor vintage Ozzy, rather an, at times,  blues-infused modern hard rock record that wavers between eighties catchiness and a  harder almost grungy feel – like on ‘Wasted’ that features a Paul DiAnno vocal.  There are plenty of songs you’ll find yourselves liking and not one out-and-out stinker on here, but equally there’s nothing to grab you by the throat either. Vocally you do wonder about the choice of DJ Smith, I mean he’s not bad here in a sort of Stephen Pearcy meets Dave Lee Roth kind of way but he’s certainly not great and after recent reports you have to wonder if he can cut it live – Dave at least always had his stagecraft.

At its heart though this is rock with a modern edge, which may, or may not please all of Jake’s older audience. It starts off well with ‘Deceived’ (everyone I’m sure will hear ‘Bark at the Moon’ when the riff hits) which is a solid rocker; and then we get the first of the ‘guest vocalist’ slots which you can take how you like – a publicity gimmick or something more supportive. Either way they give the album a strange texture and it’s only really Robin Zander on the modern rocker ‘Feeder’ and sass Jordan on ‘Redeem Me’ that hit gold, though Marina Brink does a decent job on the heavy doomy almost industrial ‘Big Mouth’ later on.

At times you can sense something greater than we have here is possible – like the soaring ‘Fall From the Sky’ which takes things down a notch and sounds all the better for it allowing Jake to be far more expansive in his playing. Maybe even ‘Redeem Me’ with its bluesier hues, though in reality it’s a workmanlike composition. If we want to be honest though it’s only these tracks that you can glimpse a catch of the joy a lot of us got from Badlands. The new world for Jake is open  

Jake E. Lee – Guitars
Ronnie Mancuso – Bass
D.J Smith – Vocals
Jonas Fairley - Drums



Mark Diggins