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Like this was never going to happen. After two albums – one (Fozzy – 2000) an entire cover version disc and the second (Happenstance – 2002), all but 30% the same - WWE’s Chris ‘Jericho’ Irvine’s FOZZY finally makes the predictable full blooded attempt at releasing a new album made up 10 self penned, original tracks. I never actually embraced the movement of a wrestling superstar into the metal scene – it was all a bit of a laugh at the time and certainly I don’t remember Jericho’s first two albums as anything memorable – however, I got to admit, ‘All That Remains’ isn’t the crock I was half expecting to hear. Hell, most of it is quite enjoyable.
Now that Fozzy hasn’t up and fallen like a deck of cards (like most predicted), clearly ‘Jericho’ is serious about his metal. He’s a star of the ring, and with unchecked bravado and ego, he is obviously keen to keep pursuing the dream of being a ‘rock star’ as well. Knowing the backlash that has come with his involvement in the metal scene, ‘Jericho’ has been smart enough to realize that if FOZZY was going to be serious about this album being entirely original, the songs had to be killer. Seemingly, having Rich Ward (former Stuck Mojo axeman) in his band isn’t enough (which is a joke in itself, the man is a riff god), so throwing his connections into full swing, Jericho has a boat load of ‘guest appearances’ to help flesh out the majority of tracks written for ‘ATR’.
With cheque book in tow (I’m guessing?) Jericho’ has enlisted Ozzy guitarist and Black Label Society frontman Zakk Wylde to sit in on ‘Wanderlust’. Former Creed guitarist and Alter Bridge co-founder Mark Tremonti joins in on one of the standout tracks ‘The Way I Am’ and Marty Friedman (ex-Megadeth) tears up the fretboard on the thrashy ‘Born of Anger’. Jericho also gets rap-artist Bone Crusher (who, with a name like that could easily be confused as one of Jericho’s ring buddies) to deliver his prose on one of the more modern rap-metal style tracks ‘It’s a Lie’.
The truly cynical could say that ‘ATR’ wouldn’t be the album it is without the involvement of these people. However, it’s not quite as commercially calculating as it seems. Thing is, the best tracks on this disc feature the one main man that has always been there – RICH WARD. Besides my continual frustration as to why Rich does Fozzy instead of Stuck Mojo, I’ve always regarded the guy as a riff-writing monster. And while, Fozzy’s music is perhaps a little too ‘hard rock’ compared to the mighty Mojo, the Rich Ward groove- flavored riffs are all over this record. His production duties also give added rise to his killer tone and razor sharp riffage.
As far as commercial potential is concerned, it may surprise that there are some absolutely stellar hard rock tracks on this. Highly melodic with choruses that could go far with the right audience – tracks like ‘Enemy (which has HUUGGEEE written all over it, not to mention a massive Rich Ward guitar riff), The Way I Am and Lazarus’ are quite infectious. Hell, even Jericho himself puts in a surprisingly good vocal performance (with the help of some well placed studio manipulation, no doubt), hitting the high notes and pulling off the testosterone-fueled aggro like a professional. For variation, he even takes on darker, melancholic mood for the title track and ‘Lazarus’.
‘All That Remains’ has turned out to be a much more enjoyable and fun listen than I thought possible. I really do like it in a weird sort of fashion. Yet with Rich Ward in the band and his name on the production line, this was never going to be truly awful in my eyes. Nowhere near as cheesy - it’s actually got some substance and backbone about it. There are a couple of bog standard duffs, and the modern, nu-metal elements (including that rap track) with be off putting for a lot of metal folk, however, if you are attracted to melodic, hard rocking, riff oriented metal, this is worth your time.
Krozza: written for www.pyromusic.net and www.wallsoffire.de (english)