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Ahh, the smell of ass-kicking is in the air again, like bitter cannon smoke after a battle, and Rob Rock is the general in command. This is his latest offering of high-octane, pounding riff-and-chorus Heavy Metal, and if you ever liked him in the past, you won't find anything to change your mind here. Garden of Chaos is one of those albums that offers absolutely nothing in the way of innovation or any pretentious crap like that, but it does what it sets out to do SO FUCKING WELL that any pretenses of "it's too generic" or "I want something that sounds different" can be immediately disregarded, and those who said them shamefully corrected...with a solid ironclad bootprint right in the middle of their asses.
So what exactly does Garden of Chaos do so well? Rob Rock's charmingly old school Heavy Metal aesthetics have never failed to please, especially when brought into the modern context that this album offers, and here the choruses are bigger, the riffs are cooler, and the production is better than ever, making for, on paper, just about one of the coolest "pure" Metal albums to come out last year, up there with winners like Hardworlder and The Curse of Crystal Viper. Rob's steely air-raid wailing is combined with the heavy, bludgeoning classic metal riffs and screaming solos of the inimitable Roy Z, and it is truly a match made in heaven, for the performances here are so good that you'll probably have to keep a rag handy to wipe off the drool.
Aside from being a maelstrom of Heavy Metal the way it was meant to be played, Garden of Chaos shares another element of the two modern classics mentioned in the paragraph above in that it is unabashedly and blatantly wearing its influences on its sleeves, a virtual melting pot of classic Metal influences that will put a smile on even the old man in the corner who won't listen to anything released after 1989. Fuck, listen to the twin guitar attack intro of "Metal Breed" and tell me that couldnt've been on Powerslave, and that the galloping, stomping metallic fare of "Millennial Reich" couldnt've been on Ample Destruction, or that "Savior's Call" wouldn't fit in well on Stained Class. And that isn't even all there is, either, with standouts like the opening boom of the title track, the catchy "Satan's Playground," the epic "Spirit in the Sky" and the sinister, grooving "Only a Matter of Time" being highly entertaining melodic crackers that will get your head banging - and if they don't, then what are you doing reading this website?
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com
Have you ever wondered how good that forbidden fruit must have been? I mean if Adam and Eve can apparently bring damnation upon all mankind for taking an itsy chomp, wouldn’t it be really fucking sweet? I think so. But in our quest to taste such perfection, we venture out in areas like music to find greatness, and there have been noteworthy samples before, but none can compared to Rob Rock’s fourth studio record entitled “Garden of Chaos.” It takes absolute talent to be good, but the extra link between that and excellence – the kind we always long for – seems finally entwined by Rob Rock’s stellar voice along with the sensational poetic contributions of Roy Z.’s masterful writing talents; what emerges is something beyond the promises of greatness. Due to many mighty characteristics of divine proportions, it can be concluded “Garden of Chaos” is one spot-on release that seriously delivers quality to the absolute amount of deliverance’s available substance, if that makes any sense.
Now to clarify any musical hazes, “Garden of Chaos” totally diverts itself off the traditional metal cliff until it gracefully splashes in power metal’s refreshing stream below; in fact, it’s completely submerged in that particular genre while just mildly taking some old-school heavy metal and hard rock during the dive. Using this type of blitzkrieg induces speedy riffs, beefy versus, interesting instrumental changes, fetching choruses, and rapid percussion involving machine gun-like double pedaling upon the warfront as expected, yet it always screams of originality. For example, Roy Z.’s guitar attack sways away from calculations by escorting unfamiliar riffing structures or picking patterns one could easily consider a bit odd for the genre while other unique observations are seen pressing against Rob Rock’s belting vocals when it meets such a varied style. A traditional power metal release this is not, and that’s where genius draws its line.
By calculating altered settings, these gentlemen work together blissfully as “Garden of Chaos” distinctively shows a majestic idol at its highest peak. As previously stated, it’s no question Roy Z.’s different riffing effort provokes new instrumental cells to absorb fresh bass-drum combinations among its brilliant nucleus; you have a better chance of being mauled by a three-headed camel that has ham for genitals than finding a bad riff written by Roy Z. Finally, he’s survived the realms of Axel Rudi Pell and Driver with a one-of-a-kind voice, yet Rob Rock’s performance here reigns over everything he’s ever done throughout all his musical endeavors. This man’s epic voice fertilizes our luscious gathering by forcefully yelling with amazing precision and maintaining colorful pitch control; all of which earns golden status from the natural clarity in Rob’s voice.
Yet melting all these wonderful aspects together forges an item from God himself: incredible songs. With Roy Z.’s ultimate riffs and Rob’s divine vocals in complete unison, “Garden of Chaos” emits rapid numbers that lack flaw, but also venturing into brilliant melodic territory, and even the acoustic “Unconditional,” which undisputedly comes out as one the record’s highest notes. In fact, every track flies in such distinct areas that it seems what Rock and Roy have created goes beyond what any power metal fan could ever comprehend! Never has anything so courageous or uplifting emerged from power metal in years; I guarantee you’ll find yourself in shock after witnessing how magical this entire album really is.
Honestly, what Rob Rock made here is probably the best release he’s ever done, and “Garden of Chaos” will most likely never be toppled by anything else he’ll ever do in the future. Not only is Rock in his prime as a vocalist, but Roy Z.’s unlimited riffing arsenal highlights new areas of creativity and brilliance that has never been explored in power metal before; they literally go beyond expectations, and redefine what it means to be excellent. Records like this only come once in a very great while, so don’t miss your opportunity to taste Heaven’s fruits with Rob Rock’s finest hour.
Betwwen M.A.R.S., Impelliteri ou Avantasia, and as one of the most talented Hard-Rock/Heavy-Metal singers of his generation, I’m sure Rob Rock requires no introductions to the metalhead with at least some musical culture.
But for all the illustrious projects he has collaborated with, Rob also has a recognized solo career of which “Garden Of Chaos” is the fifth fruit, succeeding 2005’s amazing “Holly Hell”. Back with him we have the luxury lineup of Carl Johan Grimmark (Narnia, Beautiful Sin, etc.) in the guitar, Andreas Olsson (Narnia, DivineFire, Stormwind) as the bass player and Andreas Johansson (Narnia, Wisdom Call) in the drums. We can still find here Roy Z., the same who catapulted Bruce Dickinson’s solo career, Gus G. (Firewind) that also made the title track, Bobby Jarzombek from Halford/Iced Earth/Pain Museum, virtuoso Mistheria, and other consecrated musicians.
With Grimmark and Roy Z. in charge of production and mixing by Jacob Hansen, the exceptional result can be heard from the start with “Garden Of Chaos”, demolishing with Grimmark’s riffing and a sumptuous double pedal by Johansson, who does a remarkable work throughout the album, keeping up a perfectly wild drumming but one with technique and speed well balanced to produce variety and some impressive speed bursts. Nothing wrong with the rest of the musicians neither, and with the kind of lineup this album has, I won’t surprise you if I tell you the guitar work is purely stunning.
And so, firmly supported by a great performance by all musicians, the album offers us great songs one after another, somewhere between guitar driven melodic Hard-Rock like we could expect from Axel Rudi Pell, and a more addictive Power like with “Milenial Reign” and its memorable chorus line, and we can also point out “Metal Breed”, perhaps a future classic metal hymn.
Keeping within Rob’s usual line, meaning a very melodic Hard-Rock with Power/Speed and classic Metal influences, “Garden of Chaos” feels and sounds like the exact album Rob wanted to make: solid, coherent, with memorable moments. If this is the kind of sound you enjoy, this will be an album to delight you. If it has a negative side, it’s Rob does a spectacular job, but we know he can do even better and this album could have pushed him a bit harder.
Originaly for www.rockheavyloud.com