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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Molly Hatchet

Justice

Review by Gary Hill

I have to admit, I haven’t heard a Molly Hatchet album since the glory days of the band. There was a bit of scenario when I went to an autograph signing in the late 1970’s or first part of the 1980’s and they put down one of my favorite bands. I kind of wrote them off because of it. Well, I’m glad I gave them the chance to redeem themselves. This album just plain rocks. It starts off strong and continues that way throughout, but on the last three songs they just pull out all the stops. These guys have gotten a harder edge over the years, but still not lost their southern rock roots. All in all, this is a great album.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Been To Heaven - Been To Hell

This comes in with a burst that feels like 1980’s metal. It drops to something closer to AC/DC. From there, though, we move out to a Southern rock ramble that’s got plenty of old school Molly Hatchet with some ZZ Top and some metal thrown in for good measure. It’s a smoker and a great way to start the set.

Safe In My Skin
There’s a definite bluesy rock and roll element to this. It’s killer southern rock with a bit of a metal twist. I like it a lot. There’s an especially tasty organ solo on this, followed by a smoking guitar solo.
Deep Water
Keyboards start this off and as they take it out from there we get some more music that’s close to 1980’s metal. 
American Pride
The general mode isn’t changed dramatically here, but this rocker is very effective. These guys just aren’t ready to let up yet. 
I'm Gonna Live 'Til I Die
This comes in with a balladic approach and takes on an epic scale as it continues. It is less metallic than some of the other stuff, but yet resembles epic metal power ballads. It’s a killer tune that represents a nice change of pace. It still rocks out like crazy, but is less of an energized number than some of the rest of the music here. Parts of this almost resemble progressive rock. The mellow motif returns to end it.
Fly On Wings Of Angels (Somer’s Song)
A child’s vocal rendering of “You Are My Sunshine” serves as the opening here. Then a majestic guitar comes and leads the way with an appropriately soaring solo that makes me think of Joe Satriani. As it continues from there we get a stirring piano and vocal ballad motif. They power it up as they continue, but this is really a nearly progressive rock oriented balladic piece of music. It’s pretty and powerful. A rather operatic treatment of “You Are My Sunshine” bookends this one out. 
As Heaven Is Forever
Here’s one that’s not really metal at all. Instead, this is a powered up classic rock ballad that’s got a bit of crunch and hints of country in the mix. It’s a powerful cut that feels very much like it could have come out of the 1970’s with only a slightly different arrangement. 
Tomorrows And Forevers
This feels the closest to something the band might have done in the 1970’s. It’s another strong piece on a disc that’s full of them. In an intriguing twist there’s a saxophone solo on this track. 
Vengeance
As this comes in it feels like another ballad. It screams out into a smoking riff that makes this one of the best tracks on the CD, no question. Yes, it’s metallic, but it’s also pure Southern rock. This one is worth the price of admission all by itself. 
In The Darkness Of The Night
Just when you think it can’t get any better, it does. This screamer is in many ways similar to the last piece. Yet, it ups the ante and is built on an even meaner riff. This is what southern rock really should be. 
Justice
Sound effects and other textural elements bring this in with a dramatic approach. From there it powers out into a motif that’s almost country. This is another highlight of the set, making for a real knock out punch for the three closers. It alternates between mellower and harder rocking music and the gritty, from the gut vocal approach is classic. There is an absolutely smoking classic southern rock jam that serves as the extended outro to this powerhouse. Of these last three tracks it would be impossible to pick one as the strongest. They are all so good.
 
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