Chris Jericho wrestles his demons superbly on album nine
That Fozzy have been making records for almost two decades, and are on album number nine is merely proof of three things. 1) Time flies 2) We’re all getting old, but most importantly 3) it’s time to stop thinking they are some side project for Chris Jericho to indulge his hobby in between WWE bouts.
Indeed, such is Jericho’s clear love for the music he plays, you are led to think that for him, nothing is done if it isn’t done at full-throttle, hurtling down the fast lane and living life to the maximum possible. His performance at Bloodstock (a festival where people tend to be a little serious about their metal) won over a few doubters and his energy is unquestionable.
Certainly, there is an absolute urgency about the 11 songs here that screams: “ignore us at your peril.”
Working with Johnny Andrews – who co-wrote their “Lights Go Out” mega hit and has worked with just about every modern metal band there is – as a Producer has given the record a very polished and downright massive feel. They’ve toured with AX7 and Shinedown and it’s clear the bombast of both was a starting point.
The title track kicks things off and does have a feel of Shinedown about it, the brooding verses, the huge hook, and there’s no point in hiding the fact that this is a testosterone fuelled, muscular and very American sound.
There’s no denying either that the albums absolute standout classic (and no, that’s not too strong a word) is the quite brilliant “Drinkin’ With Jesus”, catchier than the flu and about a million times more fun, it is a wonderful example of how good Fozzy can be.
The rest of it, to be fair, isn’t too shabby either. “Painless” has a groove of obscenely large proportions, “Weight Of My World” is designed to get fists pumping and shows just what a fine guitarist Rich Ward is and “Wordsworth Way” has an eerie sheen and some more personal lyrics than are found elsewhere.
With that, the pattern is rather set. “Burn Me Out” would work better live, and has the feel of a real banger, “Three Days In Jail” has a crossover potential with its rap metal stylings (Ward had a history of this with Stuck Mojo, of course) and “Elevator” wants to be a White Zombie song (and nearly pulls it off too).
There are no let ups in sonic bluster, either. “Running With Bulls” does things through gritted teeth, “Capsized” rumbles and those looking for acoustic introspection can look elsewhere.
“Judas” ends with something slightly different, “Wolves At Bay” is the second best thing here, with its galloping, metal guitars, but like most of the rest of it, it is great fun.
That, when it comes to Fozzy, is perhaps the point. Not having to do this gives the five the freedom to be exactly what they are. Needing to do it for artistic reasons means that what Fozzy produce here is full of mighty, arena filling frolics.