Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mos Generator - Nomads: Balls Aplenty & A 2012 High Water Mark

Mos Generator puts out their first album in over five years, and it turns out that is was well worth the wait. Nomads is yet another winner from the studio and mind of Tony Reed, and his label, Ripple Music. Both are on a helluva streak with no slowdown in sight. It just might be the hard rock/metal album of the year. Tony Reed is a writer, singer, producer, and guitarist of prodigious talent, and this may be his finest moment yet.

Cosmic Ark sets things up beautifully. It sounds like you've discovered a long missing Sabbath track from the early days. It's not sacrilege to either team - Reed is amongst the finest regular purveyors of classic hard rock in the world, and while this is not as derivative as his regular band, the all '70s style encompassing Stone Axe, the sonic footprint of the decade of the metal gods is all over this platter. The riffage is simple and solid, the vocals are passionate, and the rhythm section is propulsively solid. The bridge is a jazzy spin that suggests the better instincts of The Guess Who at their psychedelic best before the riff returns and rides out on some great string bending and chorus chanting.

The riff that kicks off Lonely One Kenobi should have a thousand kids out buying guitars, amps, and punishing music store sales people with constant repetition. Writing a great hard rock riff is like finding a big, raw diamond - it doesn't happen every day, and when one is unearthed it is as thrilling as ever. Just past two minutes in, the rock gives way to some very proggy brilliance - a nice segue into a brash melodic solo that ought to have the guitar magazines fawning over the long under acknowledged Reed. This might be the metal track of the year.

I've been harping for a Free reunion for years, and the album's next track suggests that Reed would be one great pinch hitter for the late Paul Kossoff. Torches blisters the paint off the blues - Tony is playing like his ass is on fire. His leads are sizzling hot sections that generally steer clear of the main of the tune to go off on a musical adventure that furthers the story like a good novel.

Step Up is a dynamo of dynamics - one minute it's a swaggering metal anthem, then it's a thoughtful meditation that invites you to "find your way up into the light." Bassist Scooter Haslip lays down the gauntlet on this one, and Reed takes off over the top on an Iommi informed flight of fancy that has me grinning from ear to ear and praying that the new Sabbath record is half this good.

When I saw that Tony Reed and his cohorts in Mos Generator were covering Judas Priest's Solar Angels, I shuddered slightly and went about my business of spinning the disc. It takes balls to cover a Priest tune - some would say it's ill-advised, at best. I'd say it just takes balls, and if there's one thing this album has it's balls aplenty.

Indeed, this cover has more balls than the original take - I'm a huge Judas Priest fan, but I found the production on their Point of Entry album to be thin and Halford's vocals were a bit thin, most likely given to the coke fueled times. I do wish Reed could have gotten Rob in for some harmonies on this, but I'm given to asking for a lot, some would say too much. Reed pulls this off, and for me that's huge - as I said, it's dangerous to cover something as iconic as the Priest, but the band kills it. Big, blustery, ballsy, and anthemic - hats off fellas.

For Your Blood stays in the neighborhood of early JP with a bit more boogie. Boogie is the long lost word on the path of stoner rock. The solo section here is a pile-driving dance as drummer Shawn Johnson rides his cymbals to great effect as Reed gives a class in rock and roll guitar playing - I'm reminded of the grand days of Foghat and Ram Jam's classic Black Betty.

Time changes and tempo jumps grab you by the throat and refuse to let go on Can't Get Where I Belong. Reed may not know exactly where he fits in the world at large, but he is the master of his domain, and that domain is anywhere there is a pair of humbuckers, and an amp stack. It's tough being the only guitarist in a rock band - it's a tremendously demanding task, and this guy knows every twist and turn in the lexicon of the language. I have a short attention span, and little patience, but this album keeps me on the edge of my seat.

The acoustic interlude that introduces the album's title track is a joy - it sounds fresh and was recorded so well that it sounds like it could fill a huge room with ease. In comes some muted chording that has a nice swing and sway - joined by a fluid bass line, then some tom tom hits and we're into a major groove. We're into the final track, This Is The Gift Of Nature, and it is an epic. You don't even have to smoke pot to get stoned by this one. It builds into a metallic romp, then Reed brings in the verse with a stagger step riff that is everything that bad metal isn't - this is musically satisfying, sophisticated, soulful rock and roll, and ye had best rejoice. Nomads is a labyrinth of great rock - not just this song, but the whole album.

Mos Generator has hit it out of the park on this record, with the bases loaded. A grand slam that will have you fist pumping, dancing, and even thinking. Get out whatever you play, be it an air guitar, or the real thing - you're gonna need them. This is an inspiring piece of rock, and I hope it has the influence it deserves. Tony Reed is at the top of his game, and I can't wait to see where he goes from here.

There's a ton of reminders of what a great band Black Sabbath was at one time on this record - I hope that the Sabs and Rick Rubin come up with something that makes me half this happy.

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