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Red Dragon Cartel - Patina

Red Dragon Cartel
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 30 November 2018, 6:09 AM

RED DRAGON CARTEL sees infamous guitarist Jake E. Lee return with his second solo offering since long days have passed with “Bark at the Moon,” and “The Ultimate Sin.” I remember seeing him on That Metal Show a few years back, talking about how he didn’t get songwriting credit or get paid very much at all for his work back then. Then, I thought about his prowess. One could argue that he was OZZY’s best guitarist. I am not much one for nostalgia, there is so much good and original metal out there that I don’t have time for has-beens, so there had better be some new material here. Let’s get to it.

“Speedbag” leads off the album, in a mid-tempo pace with an easy listening riff. The song is fairly thin in scope. Just one guitar track, bass and drums don’t provide much presence. The vocals are strong but there aren’t enough no harmonies, and it just falls flat. Even the solo isn’t much to talk about. “Havana” is similar in scope, though just a bit faster, the single guitar track doesn’t create much excitement, and the bass playing is very unilateral. The chorus has some harmonies but again it is just flat. “The Cooked Man” is a slow moving song with barely a Hard Rock sound. The guitars are not at full distortion, suggesting this as Alternative music. The song is fairly infectious but I just wonder what new quality it is bringing to the scene.

“The Luxury of Breathing” features a lumbering and fuzzy main riff and some trippy elements, in the vocals. Some harmonies in the chorus are pleasing, but they don’t connect well with the key in the verses. “Bitter” has an energetic riff that is slightly faster but still with a lot of open space in the verses. They add a few layers in the chorus but it isn’t enough to get it off the ground, unfortunately. “Chasing Ghosts” opens with a slow bass line and some light drumming, leading to some trippy elements in the guitar. This is about as bare bones Hard Rock as I have come across lately. “A Painted Heart” is a slow moving song with some introspective elements and that trippy guitar again. It floats somewhat, appearing to you as if in a dream. But it fades pretty quickly.

“My Beautiful Mess” is another mid-tempo song with a simple guitar riff and again, barely hard enough to call Hard Rock. Some more trippy effects keep it at least fairly interesting, but there isn’t much to grab a hold of here. “Ink & Water” closes the album, opening with some light bass guitar work and some guitar chords and leads. Perhaps my expectations were too high here. I mean, you hear Jake E. Lee, and you expect some madness. Perhaps he has mellowed with age, and this is the music he feels in his heart. That’s fine, I mean, I would never begrudge a musician for making what is in his heart. It’s just pretty far away from his days with OZZY.

Songwriting: 4
Originality: 3
Memorability: 3
Production: 7

2 Star Rating

1. Speedbag
2. Havana
3. Crooked Man
4. The Luxury of Breathing
5. Bitter
6. Chasing Ghosts
7. A Painted Heart
8. My Beautiful Mess
9. Ink & Water
Jake E Lee – Guitar
Anthony Esposito – Bass
Phil Varone – Drums
Darren James Smith – Vocals
Record Label: Frontiers Records


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