|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By: John DeShon|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2009||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 85%|
F.O.G., an Aurora, Illinois based classic hard rock band with a moniker standing for “four old guys”, can trace its origin to vocalist Dave Miller, who “merged his passion for gut-crunching rock and roll with his newly invigorated faith in Christ”. Founded by a group of friends at a local church that shared a love of hard rock, F.O.G. started as a novelty act but soon become an active ensemble, performing at youth groups, outdoor festivals and some of the roughest biker bars in Illinois and Wisconsin.
Musically, F.O.G. describes itself as “esoteric as a runaway freight train full of wild boars barreling down a mountainside at high noon” and that “their guitars scream with the passion of a thousand murderous band saws and their amps crackle and smoke with the rage of ten thousand mother lions”. Works for me. In all seriousness, F.O.G. brings a 70’s influenced blues based hard rock sound certain to appeal to fans of Resurrection Band, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, early nineties Bride and Led Zeppelin. Other acts worthy of consideration include Mission Of One, Heartcry, Jesus Joshua 24:15, Shining Star (Reset era) and Cornerstone/Stonefuze.
Now, one of the problems I often have with classic hard rock is its lack of consistency. In other words, many of the albums within the genre I find hit and miss in that it is not uncommon to encounter a level of repetition forcing me to hit the skip button a few too many times.
Not so with F.O.G. and its latest release, Judgement & Redemption, from 2009. The album “bucks the trend” by proving a front to back consistent listen as a result of the group’s ability to infuse its material with enough melody and catchy hooks to keep your attention from wavering. Yes, some songs are better than others but there is not anything I might place within the “filler” category either.
“Message” and “Blow The Trumpet”, with their immediate catchy choruses, both standout as does the blues tinged heaviness of “Old Monsters”, “Cocktails And Dreams” and “I Wanna Live”. “Dreamer” delivers a touch of classic rock while “Against The Ropes” approaches traditional blues rock territory (think Glenn Kaiser Band). “Create”, “Dancin’ Dead” and “Bad Direction” stand out with their straightforward and no-frills sensibilities.
The gritty mid-ranged flavorings of vocalist Dave Miller fit the classic hard rock genre like a hand in a glove. The album finds him expanding his range and stepping it up in the vocal department, as is demonstrated on “Blow The Trumpet” (in which he adds some force to his delivery) and “I Wanna Live” (due to taking a laid back approach).
Guitarist Warren Poi performs at a high level as well, adorning the project with his edgy riffs and chops – some slow, driving and doom-like and others heading in a more animated direction – and blues tinged lead guitar work. His playing on “Old Monsters (fast paced soloing) and “Cocktails And Dreams (blues influence) particularly stands out. The rhythm section of bassist Ron Regnas and Jim Groleske is a force to be reckoned with (the bass lines on “Blow The Trumpet” and “Create” are nothing less than killer).
Production values are adeptly done, combining a more than ample amount of rhythm guitar with a cleanly mixed low end. Credit must be given to producer/engineer John DeShon and GOD-Song Studio (Plainfield, Illinois).
The album gets underway to “Message”, a non-stop scorcher defined by its knife-like guitar riffs and catchy hook to its chorus. The momentum is up-tempo and energy prevailing.
“Old Monsters” slows things to a bluesy hard rocking romp. Driven, gritty and caustic, the song plods its length in biting fashion as Warren Poi decorates things with his blues drenched guitar work.
The blues based leanings are maintained on “Cocktails And Dreams”. This one proves another stinging number with its unremitting impetus and bludgeoning guitars that make their presence felt in full force. What we wind up with is an environs heavy but memorable at the same time.
“Create” is as straightforward as it gets. Taking a back to basics – almost doom-ish – metal/hard rock approach, the song brings a catchy hook and another stretch of Poi’s consummate gritty lead work.
“Blow The Trumpet” joins some ominous guitar riffs and a bottom heavy milieu with nothing less than an expertly done chorus. I cannot help but be reminded of Rez Band in the process: put this on Silence Screams or Innocent Blood and it would sound right at home.
Another straightforward hard rocker, “Dancin’ Dead” proves a five minute slugfest of driving momentum and all out grit-laden proclivity. An element of contrast can be found in the pronounced bass line and voice of a preacher that closes things out.
The plodding direction of “Bad Direction” borders on the doom-like. Low-key and weighty as it gets, the song is put over the top by a scathing chorus in which Miller adds an element of edge to his delivery.
A laid back classic rock influence prevails on “Dreamer”. Poi really cuts loose and stretches throughout this one, bringing out the best in things with his choppy rhythm guitar sound and gutsy soloing abilities.
The stalwart leanings of “I Wanna Live” find F.O.G. at its best. Walls of penetrative guitars uphold the song as it churns through its rumbling verses on the way to a chorus of the guttural variety.
“Against The Ropes” heads in traditional blues rock territory. Yes, everything here speaks of the blues, whether it be the fortitude of Miller’s vocal delivery or the disconsolate setting, you cannot help but be reminded of Glenn Kaiser Band or Darrell Mansfield.
Judgement & Redemption is a quality blues based hard rock album. Consistent would be the best way to describe the project in that it features 10 strong tracks holding up under solid chorus hooks and the bands well rounded performance. What else can you say except that this is a definite step forward for F.O.G. and that the future is bright for these “four old guys”.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Message” (3:12), “Old Monsters” (5:21), “Cocktails And Dreams” (4:56), “Create” (3:42), “Blow The Trumpet” (4:13), “Dancin’ Dead” (5:09), “Bad Direction” (3:30), “Dreamer” (4:28), “I Wanna Live” (3:20), “Against The Ropes” (4:35)
Dave Miller – Lead Vocals
Warren Poi – Guitars
Ron Regnas – Bass
Jim Groleske - Drums