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Nothin' but Skynet - 61%

Tanuki, February 17th, 2017

Rogue Male's inception saw abundant coverage and hype from metal magazines and promotional compilation albums. Their press agent was certainly enthusiastic, so we're left to wonder why, exactly, the cover art of First Visit looks like the Terminator's most embarrassing school yearbook photo.

One could infer by track titles alone that First Visit is a love-letter to Motörhead, but the subtlety and effort makes it seem more like a series of lewd Snapchat messages. Greasy tracks are veiled in a damp fog of sleaze, with rock 'n' roll-influenced metal riffs, shuffling drumlines, and a burbling bass. Also in stark accordance with this comparison, Jim Lyttle attempts to emulate the late, great Lemmy with each and every syllable. Most evident in the fast-paced title track 'Crazy Motorcycle', Lyttle sounds perhaps a semitone or so higher than Lemmy, overall assuming the role of a rough blue-collar vocalist without much issue.

Unless of course, you take issue with unoriginality. It is without hyperbole I view First Visit as Bomber fan-fiction. Viewed optimistically, that makes First Visit simply more of a good thing, provided you're as big a Motörhead fan as they are. Pessimistically, this is second-rate and can barely compete with the more original and better-produced tracks of Bomber, much less bring anything new to the table in the hopes of being viewed as superior.

This is mostly because of the lax nature of guitarist John Fraiser-Binnie. I realize that buffed-up, catchy simplicity is the philosophy of speed metal, but perhaps Fraiser-Binnie adheres to this doctrine a little too eagerly. 'Look Out' is very close to boasting a single, solitary riff, altered only when the solo begins. Solos, an exercise in slothfulness in and of themselves, are brisk and frankly a little sloppy for my taste. 'All Over You' manages to be an exception, treating the listener to a passage of high-reaching blues licks where Fraiser-Binnie thankfully remembers he has a whammy bar.

I realize, upon re-reading this review, 65% seems awfully high for an album hyped to hell and back, yet showed up with a muzzled production, unambitious riffs, and a vocalist who sounds like Lemmy's long-lost plumber. But right there, I've hit the nail on the head. Everything about Rogue Male, right down to its very ethos, is mainly owed to Motörhead. Therefore the comparison is as inevitable as the result. On its own merit, First Visit should suit most NWOBHM enthusiasts - myself included - just fine. It's essentially the local supermarket brand soda. Politely suggest it to friends who you think couldn't tell the difference, or try it out yourself, if you ever want to take a break from Coca-Cöla.

Standout tracks:
Crazy Motorcycle, Unemployment

Related listening:
Sinner - Touch of Sin
Black Tears - Child of the Storm