Monday, December 10, 2012

Blood of the Sun - Burning On The Wings Of Desire: Come All Ye Faithful

Blood of the Sun should be headlining big arenas, flying in private jets, and drinking champagne from Tokyo to Helsinki. As it is, they're making great rock in relative anonymity and currently blowing my mind with their brand of organ soaked 70s high octane rock and boogie.

Burning On The Wings Of Desire is the band's fourth long player, and it's a beautiful slice of rock - produced by hard rock renaissance man Tony Reed (Stone Axe, Mos Generator) who also supplies all the bass on the album, plays a ton of guitar, and contributed his songwriting and arranging chops, as well. The band is the brainchild of drummer Henry Vasquez (St. Vitus) and keyboard killer Dave Gryder, and it's fronted by the unlikely mixture of two veterans from the Southern Rock legends, Point Blank, vocalist John O' Daniel and six string sizzler Rusty Burns. It's tough to tell the players without a program, but Reed tells me that he's supplying the Gibson toned leads, and Rusty Burns the more Fenderish Strat tones.

If Deep Purple had been born in Texas in 2012, they may well have sounded a lot like Blood of the Sun. Burns and Gryder produced a thick, heavy, viscous roux of rock that satisfies mightily. They manage to avoid stepping on one another's toes as they both play their asses off from start to finish on every tune. The songwriting also exhibits some modern molten touches, while simultaneously making me thing of Blood, Sweat and Tears with a soulfulness mostly missing from modern metal. Yeah, they cover a lot of ground, but they don't really sound like anyone except themselves.

Let It Roll hits the ground running, and O' Daniel's sky high vocal chops keep things from even suggesting retro, his voice still possesses every note he could ever hit, and when he screams in the organ solo, you feel it. After Gryder's B-3 smack down, we're greeted with some Gibbonsesque guitar pentatonics, then Gryder takes the reigns and ups the ante and Burns rides it out in grand fashion before the song's final verse leads us to a happy ending.

The title track is next, and it's a rocket fuel fired organ romp that's joined by Burns excellent shadings of purple - this bunch swaggers more than they swing, but it's Blackmore and Lord who seem to have donated the DNA that drives this engine. There's a familiar instrumental interlude that takes us back to the psychedelic '60s, then Tony Reed's bass nearly shakes the stucco of the walls as again Reed, Burns and Gryder slam out cool solos. Burning On The Wings Of Desire, indeed.

I have to point out Reed's production - I've heard bands with the same instrumentation sound blurry and muddied, but he's managed to keep everything crystal clear and knife edge sharp. Can't Stop My Heart is a number that could suffer without a sympathetic mind behind the board, and this is as crisp as Iron Maiden at their best. Burns rips off a solo that should have his face on guitar magazines, then Gryder pushes him out of the way and it's a Hammond scorched earth.

Bring Me Down is as close as we get to a slow one, and it's riff lies right between London, England and the Rio Grande. It's also the most Southern tune on tap - it's about the only place I can connect the dots between this bunch and Point Blank, but it has a Brit blues  bent that keeps it from ever sounding stilted. Gryder pounds out a honky tonk piano solo that evokes a man trying to elegantly walk down a spiral staircase after a case, and he lands on his feet in time for Burns to slap on a slide solo that stings.

Straight back into high speed drum work from Vasquez and Rock Your Station sounds like a long last track from an album you've never heard from 1976. This one's relentless, and it's the same set of things that have made every track a blast, but these songs never sound same-y, or trite - it just sounds like a great band who did their work and delivered the goods.

Good Feeling is another shotgun blast, and it's full tilt boogie - boogie is a term which seldom rears its head in these days when so many have forgotten that great rock makes you move your ass, as well as your mind. Vasquez keeps this one steaming, and the band hangs on and never misses a step. O' Daniel's voice is incredibly sharp and powerful on this one, and again the soloists kick my silly ass.

The formula remains the same on The Snitch, but it's kind of like the formulas that work for great bands like ZZ Top, The Stones, and their ilk. They keep going back to the same tap and mining gold, not an easy task, but Blood of the Sun do a fantastic job on this record of not wearing thin, or grating - it all sounds fresh, and fiery.

Good and Evil is seven and a half minutes of brilliance, and an excellent way to wind this record up. A great riff from Rusty Burns, and organist Gryder howls in a manner that assures me that Jon Lord is smiling down from his perch in the cosmos. Wino's vocal cameo brings in yet another flavor, and the heaviness is perfect. I can't imagine how beautiful this must come across in a live setting. Yeah, this one gets better and better, right up to the end.

This is going to end up on my favorites list for this year, that's for sure. Is this retro, or just what hard rock should sound like in 2012? I don't care one way, or another - this is a great record of rock, and it should find its way under trees, into stockings, and into CD players. Don't you dare download this - buy it. It deserves to be bought, played, and loved.

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