There is no doubt that the past year or so has been a productive one for veteran guitarist George Lynch, with first his involvement in the KXM project (alongside Kings X’s Doug Pinnick and Korn’s Ray Luzier) and then his collaboration with Stryper frontman Michael Sweet on the imaginatively monickered Sweet & Lynch album. Now, he has returned to his “day job”, as it were, and reunited with long term sidekick Oni Logan to produce this, the seventh Lynch Mob album in the band’s storied 25-year career. Add into the equation his ‘Shadow Nation’ documentary film project, and, despite approaching the age of 60, Lynch definitely is putting in a prodigious work rate these days… especially as, with the dust not even having time to settle on this opus’ master tapes, he has already started work on his next recording project (called The Infidels and featuring Pancho Tomaselli from War and Angelo Moore from Fishbone).
While the KXM project didn’t stretch Lynch’s not-inconsiderable skills in the slightest, and the Sweet collaboration was patchy, to say the least, ‘Rebel’ showcases something more of the guitarist we know and is very much a return to form. It’s an album which somehow manages to sound fresh and dirty: the former coming from the varnish of the songs and the vibrancy of Logan’s stunning vocal performance, and the latter from the grit and grunt which characterizes Lynch’s guitar sound throughout most of the album.
‘Automatic Fix’ kicks things off with a funky swagger, but it’s not hard to visualize Lynch scowling in the background as he crunches out the main riff, an quickly develops into the sort of head-nodding radio-friendly tune in which the guitarist specialized back in the day… Indeed, ‘Rebel’ is an album which very much looks over its shoulder at where Lynch has come from – the likes of ‘Testify’, ‘Dirty Money’ and especially ‘Pine Tree Avenue’ all have one foot planted very firmly in the soil of the late Eighties – but also one which is a statement of intent of where he is today: a man proud of what he has achieved, standing up for what he believes in and cocksure that the music is all that matters.
The only real issue I have is that the third quarter of the album eases back a tad too much, with the back-to-back placement of the slower, more mid-paced and psychedelic ‘The Hollow Queen’ and ‘The Ledge’ – although Logan’s superb, almost breathless vocal on the latter perfectly matches Lynch’s completely understated fretwork – and the albeit crunchier ‘Kingdom Of Slaves’ means that the end section drags somewhat – although closer ‘War’ does redeem things a little with its Maiden-meets-Queensrÿche style romp, complete with classic elongated Lynch guitar workout.
‘Rebel’ proves that Lynch has lost none of the fire in his belly: he may experiment and diversify in his various collaborations and side projects but, at the end of the day, it is the flame of rock ‘n’ roll that burns bright in his soul and compels him to continue to produce and share his music with the world… and I for one don’t mind that at all.
Automatic Fix / Between The Truth And A Lie / Testify / Sanctuary / Pine Tree Avenue / Jelly Roll / Dirty Money / The Hollow Queen / The Ledge / Kingdom Of Slaves / War
Recommended listening: Testify
‘Rebel’ is out now on Frontiers Records.