Oh I’ve been waiting on the release of this collaboration for what seems like an eternity. I didn’t know much about Mikee Goodman and Sikth but Adrian Smith and I go way back to Seventh Son and the album that first got me into metal back in the late 80s (showing my age here!).
Primal Rock Rebellion sees Smith step away from the “confines” of Maiden to once again show just why he is one of the most influential guitarists and songwriters in rock and metal today and working alongside former Sikth vocalist Mikee Goodman we get an album that has strong flavours of what both excel in.
On their website there’s one paragraph that typifies this album for me:
“In essence, Primal Rock Rebellion is the meeting of different minds, different mentalities and different musical backgrounds, but the end result is very much a cohesive, self-produced whole… albeit one that reflects the individual talents of the musicians involved: Adrian provides the guitars, the bass and the advanced song-writing skills — the sense of drama, of light and shade, of music designed to stir the senses, all of them.”
I could end the review right there as I doubt I could do better (but I’ll try my best). There’s some wonderfully progressive aggressive vocal and guitar work across the first half of the album with the opening track, No Friendly Neighbour, kicking off with a killer riff backed by a wonderful sampled drum effect while Goodman’s slowly building vocals pull the song towards its full impact as it goes through the gears and some haunting shades of dark and light backed at all times by immaculate rhythm and solo guitar work from Smith.
This theme is continued throughout as you’re battered into submission with the fast paced No Place Like Home that has a grooving chorus you know you’ll just want to sing along with. This could be my favourite track on the album just for the typically Smithy solo break alone!
I See Lights reeks of sleazy undertones and at times it reminds me of the intro to The Final Frontier but with an absolute beast of a vocal track over it where Smith gets a chance to show his own vocal prowess in places too. Slow, grinding and full of power.
There’s some fantastic epic styled tracks in the way of Bright As A Fire and Tortured Tone which itself throws you a left of field mellow drum back on some delicate string and guitar work backing a beautifully emotional vocal track that once again shows Goodman’s versatile voice before it then pulls out a huge almost 80s synth like chorus and subsequent solo pay off. In between both of these you get probably the most commercial track on the album, Savage World, that really shows Smith’s roots while still incorporating that off-kilter prog style so well.
White Sheet Robes pulls us kicking and screaming back into the powerhouse with a solid mid-paced slab of riffage and what is fast becoming apparent on this album, another suitably fist pumping and almost power metal-esque chorus. These guys can mix styles with so much ease without it sounding jarring it’s pleasurable to the ears!
The album rounds off with a very short interlude that to be honest totally threw me before diving into the title track that is five minutes of straight ahead fist pumping metal that actually brings Judas Priest to the mind, so much so I could almost hear Halford screaming this one out. Search for Bliss follows this with a suitably grandiose feel in its approach, while Snake Ladders brings the album towards a close with some more superb slow-paced southern power groove and suitably quirky vocal work alongside. Mirror and the Moon completes the album in an unexpected haunting ballad that is chilled out and melancholic.
What an album. I can’t really say any more than that.
The album is available now in the UK on CD from Play, HMV or Amazon UK or get it on CD/vinyl from What Records. Digital version available from iTunes.
Awoken Broken will be release in the USA on April 17th, and can be pre-ordered from Amazon.
1. No Friendly Neighbour
2. No Place Like Home
3. I See Lights
4. Bright As A Fire
5. Savage World
6. Tortured Tone
7. White Sheet Robes
8. As Tears Come Falling From The Sky
9. Awoken Broken
10. Search For Bliss
11. Snake Ladders
12. Mirror and the Moon
PRIMAL ROCK REBELLION are:
Mikee Goodman – vocals
Adrian Smith – guitars/bass
Dan Foord – drums