Artist: Gus G
Released: 20 April 2018
In a recent interview Gus G commented that he was somewhat relieved after
being let go from Ozzy Osbourne’s band in favour of Zakk Wilde. As he
summed it up there was a stifling of creativity in the fact that he couldn’t plan
anything too far in advance in case he was summoned for recording or touring
with Ozzy. Given that I was looking forward to hearing his first solo album since
he had been able to tap into that pent up creativity.
The first time I had heard Gus G playing was on the Ozzy album Scream, an
under rated release, in my opinion, and I saw him play live at the Ozzfest the
same year. What I saw and heard was impressive enough that I took an interest
in the guitar player and was looking forward to new music from him and Ozzy.
As such, the new album Fearless was something I jumped on immediately and
was looking forward to listening to. Let’s face it; to get through assignments and
studying this time of year you need a bit of metal just to get your blood pumping
again, this was a welcome arrival.
The opening track Letting Go grabs you by the balls and launches you straight
into a manic head banging riff and drags you along kicking and screaming. The
vocals on track are mildly reminiscent of Ozzy and you get the feeling that this
was written with him in mind. The guitar playing on the track is furious and the
pace does not let up. So we arrive breathlessly at Mr Manson.
This second track on the album continues the pace from the first and you begin
to settle into the rhythm of the album, the energy is up and the quality is
everything you want from the release. There is a feeling though at the end of the
song that the guitar solo is treading over the vocals a bit and it seems to spoil the
Don’t tread on me is the third track on the album, and also where the album
begins to lose its way. After a reasonable start to the track we devolve quickly
into guitar wankery to the point that you are glad when the samey repetitive
solos end and you can get back to the main riff and vocals.
Fearless starts off great, more like this is needed, with complex riffing and the
requisite head bang worthy rhythm section, by this point in the album any hint of
a solo has me suspicious and I find myself tuning out, already defensive because I
have been hurt this way before, this track treads the line but remains on the right
side delivering an atmospheric and stylish instrumental.
Nothing to say brings a hint of Def Leppard and Bon Jovi into the mix, which is
something that was completely unexpected and yet feels like a welcome
departure from the on-going theme of the album.
Track 6 is a cover of Money for nothing by Dire Straits. This is a weird track,
simply because there is nothing wrong with it, it is played well, not over the top
and in its own right a good track. The problem is that the original was so good
that this cover seems completely unnecessary. There is nothing new added and
would be completely forgettable except for the lingering question of why anyone
would try to remake this classic. Also goes some way to proving that Marc
Knopfler is pretty metal.
Chances sums up the entire album, except for the first two tracks, it is very
average, a decent track that offers nothing of a draw to return to. If this came on
in a bar no one would complain but it wouldn’t be enough to wrest any kind of
attention away from your conversation either.
Thrill of the chase another instrumental, this time not so tastefully done. Gus
here appears as a one trick pony, yes the ability to play fast is impressive but
when that is all you do and it offers nothing, and in fact detracts from, the quality
of the track, or album, then it is time to change your approach. Vai plays fast but
it is always in service of the overall track and not just for the sake of it. So far on
this album the number of tracks you would skip to get to one that is marginally
better is higher than the tracks you would skip forward to listen to.
Big City: a slower rhythm in the intro bodes well. Solo doesn’t go too far but by
this point I’m over it and pretty much tuned out. I cant help but feel like if they
took the soloing out completely this would be a much better album, not
something I thought id ever say
Last of my kind delivers another slow start, not a criticism, yet another chance
of nuance and subtlety in playing, maybe not subtle, but didn’t ruin the track.
I really wanted to like this album and from the first two tracks it seemed like I
was going to, I was ready for it. In the end though this album comes across more
as though your little brother took your bands demo tape and soloed all over it,
and not well. Anyone who has played in a band before, or at least auditioned for
a lead guitar player knows the pain of having someone around who wont stop
soloing and just play the fucking song. The tracks could have been good if they
weren’t drowned out by the lead guitarist. This had all the potential of being a
thoroughly average release but in the end just couldn’t live up to such potential
I can imagine that the lack of creativity while with Ozzy was not because of the
timing issues but rather someone sitting him down and telling him “Gus, please
just don’t create, this is not your strong suit”
For fans of: Yngwie Malmsteen