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Expected better really - 60%

Andromeda_Unchained, July 9th, 2012

So Driver were basically formed from the ashes of the M.A.R.S. project, releasing an EP in 1990 and then going into a massive period of inactivity returning with a full-length in 2008. “Countdown” is the band's second full-length release and my first experience with Driver. The line-up notably features vocalist extraordinaire Rob Rock, who if you haven’t heard of you must have surely had your head under a rock. Along with Rob Rock is producer/guitarist Roy Z who I’m sure you should all know from the Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson solo releases.

What Driver deliver is 10 tracks of unadulterated 80’s style Heavy Metal. The sound is a veritable cross between Iron Maiden, Rob’s solo material, and sprinklings of that Roy Z magic that made albums such as “The Chemical Wedding” and “Resurrection” such enjoyable affairs. The music contained in “Countdown” is definitely well-written, but I can’t help feel that some of the arrangements fall into a middle of the road kind of territory. I keep expecting moments of brilliance as heard in the last Impellitteri release, or Rob Rock’s own “Garden of Eden”, but unfortunately they aren’t to be seen.

Driver largely keep to a mid-pace, and the overall feel is a mature release, obviously composed by a bunch of guys who know what they’re doing. Even when Driver break their speed limit it feels forced, and tracks such as “Hollywood Shooting Star” completely miss their mark. Roy Z brings some brilliant guitar solos to the album though, and they’re an undoubted highlight. Rob Rock himself puts forth a good performance, but it is as expected.

You can’t argue with tracks such as “Feel the Fire” and “Return to the Sky”, both of which are quality crunchers with fully realized hooks and memorable riffs. However, on the whole, I do admittedly struggle to get through a full spin. I feel that whilst good, there is nothing great about “Countdown” and with so many good releases in the style of late it is hard to make a recommendation. A cut above average at best, I’d recommend checking out the latest Herman Frank release instead.

Originally written for http://www.metal-observer.com