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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Ball ā€˜nā€™ Chain

Sands of Time

Review by Gary Hill

This is an awesome disc that just plain rocks. It has a real roots rock meets stripped down metal and blues sound. It might not be the most original thing you’ve ever heard, but the particular mix is rather unique and it’s delivered with so much finesse that it’s nearly impossible to look the other way. This is a great disc.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Strokes

There’s a cool extended acoustic blues jam that opens this. From there it fires out into some hard rocking heavy blues based rock. This is like early Aerosmith, but with a harder edge. The vocal arrangement has some great multi-layered aspects. Yes, the vocals really do sound a lot like the early years of Steven Tyler, but not enough to be a clone. This is a smoking hot tune that’s a great way to start the disc in style.

Win Or Lose
Combine Sammy Hagar with Montrose (yeah, I know they worked together) and AC/DC and you’ll be pretty close to this killer rocker. While it’s accessible and catchy, it isn’t the most original thing on show, and it’s also not as powerful as the opener. Krokus comes to mind in reference for me quite a bit. The guitar solo on this is particularly noteworthy.
Cryin Shame
It seems almost a cliché to put the ballad in the third slot, and that’s exactly what these guys have done. This has a rocking section, but overall feels a bit too much like 80s hair metal for my tastes. The production is a bit too precious, too. It’s OK, but not up to the standards of the two openers. I like ballads, but this one is definitely a misstep.
All Hang Out
Combining a heavy metal aesthetic with some high energy rock and roll, this is less derivative than anything else here. It’s also one of the highlights. It’s a real screamer. The guitar solo really screams.
What Comes Around Goes Around
This is another metallic screamer. It’s another that’s more original than the first few. The lyrics seem intentionally linking one cliché after another together. It’s a clever cut that really rocks.
Only a Fool
This rocker seems to combine a hard edged rock sound that’s almost metal (Saxon comes to mind) with something a little like Kiss. The guitar solo feels closer to something from Ritchie Blackmore and this is another great tune.
Real Woman
Combining that same straight ahead rock sound with some seriously metallic sounds, this feels like a cross between Krokus and WASP.
Sink the Rig
WASP is certainly a valid reference on this screamer. The guitar solo here combines a melodic sound with some real crunch.
Baby Blues
There’s a high energy riff driving this. It’s another song that at times feels like Kiss, but a rawer sound than Kiss, perhaps combining that Kiss style riff and vocal arrangement with WASP and Krokus. It’s one of the strongest cuts of the set.
Don't Play With Fire
Personally, I think this song is a little too generic and not as strong as the previous one. It would have made for a stronger ending of the disc to switch them. This one’s just a little too much like 80s hair metal – mind you the meatier side of that style.
 
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