After a 2 year hiatus, resident Godsmack members Shannon Larkin and Tony Rombola return with their reinvented blues project The Apocalypse Blues Revival. This would mark the first record with singer Shane Hall who had already sat in with Shannon and Tony in a funk project the guys had formed years ago. But now that all the key elements are in place, The Apocalypse Blues Revival lay upon us their new 9 track self-titled record and deliver the blues in their own unique way.
I have to admit that at first listen I was taken by surprise at the darkened first track “Waltz of the Antichrist”. With its ominous chants and Sabbath like riffs, it had me thinking about what direction the band was going with this album. But when the song transitions into its second half, the mood immediately changes and you can hear the doorway of the record start to open up as Tony Rombola’s guitar work would have that sadness the blues is know to bring out in a song. Another quick curve ball was the track “The Abomination of Desolation”. With Shannon Larkin’s intro on bongos I couldn’t help but think of “Voodoo“, which would be the only time you’ll hear anything that may resemble Godsmack on this record. But this song just oozed with Pink Floyd influence from the first chord echoing over singer Shane Hall’s deep soothing vocals. And we can’t leave out the wonderful sax playing that has your mind between this song and “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”
“Can’t Shake the Blues” would be the first real blues track of the album and right away, Tony’s twangy guitar tone made any blues fan feel right at home. The second half of the one two combo would be “No One Will Miss Me“. Can you really have a blues song without a Hammond organ? Of course you can. But as I say that, all I can hear in my head is Matthew McConaughey’s voice saying “You’d be a lot cooler if you did”, and he would’t be wrong. It just added a whole different voice to a song which in this case is already loaded with chunky rhythms, killer solo and hypnotic lyrics. Both songs have those key elements of what fans look for in the blues and it should only come natural when one of your biggest influences is the great Stevie Ray Vaughn. “The Doorway” is a track that has a sort of hybrid type of sound. You certainly have your blues undertone. But the atmosphere created gives us something between Floyd and The Doors which has a relaxing vibe.
The next song on the record is the guitar slide infused “Written In To the World”. This would hold the longest track time of just under 7:30 minutes and Apocalypse Blues Revival packed it with as much saxophone, thick guitar riffs and of course as much slide as you can handle. Every component really felt like it was perfectly balanced and transitioned seamlessly. Sometimes when you have a lot going on in a song it’s not hard for it to come off as forced are too much. But ABR really had this one dialed in all the way through. One of my favorite songs would have to be “Optimystic“. I’m a big fan of The Police and the entire ambience really had me going back to the early 80’s. Shannon Larkin’s work behind the kit really came out on this track as well and Shane Hall’s vocal range.
Everyone enjoys a good sing along part in a song. A lot of times it’s a catchy lyric hook that gets listeners singing with the band. But in this case, “Enjoy the Ride” has a really addictive “Awhoo whoo whoo, whooo whooo” that you can’t help but hum back at your speakers. Tony Rombola and bassist Brian Carpenter’s main groove that kicked off the track really has you tapping your foot and bobbing your head. The albums last entry “A Gecko pt2- The Endless Possibility of Water”, is nothing short of a whirlwind of fast paced rock-a-billy explosion that has Tony Rombola playing so fast that it’s a miracle he had a guitar neck left to play on. And just like a driver making the perfect down shift during a race, we now find ourselves in a slow tempo’d blues section that had me convinced I was listening to an old school blues record. But the final twist would have the band breaking back into the heavy guitar riff that started the album off on the first track, really bringing The Apocalypse Blues Revival full circle.
This record from start to finish was a perfect example of great musicianship and some damn solid song writing. If fans come in with the expectation that they’ll hear some heavy Godsmack type of tunes, than they’ve come to the wrong place and I think that is a good thing. I loved that I was able to hear something completely different from a group of musicians that are well known for playing a specific style of music. This by all accounts is a blues album. But there was so much more than just that. Apocalypse Blues Revival incorporated so many different musical styles and really let their influences be heard throughout every single track. Every song was a breath of fresh air from the last and this album is a great example of how talented this group of musicians really are. Head over to the The Apocalypse Blues Revival‘s website to get your copy of the bands latest album and all their latest merch!