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No Rust 'Till Leather - 84%

CHAIRTHROWER, March 8th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2013, Digital, Independent

One of my favorite bands growing up was Montreal's April Wine, 70s era hard rockers immortalized on the radio thanks to killer, unforgettable cuts such as "Weeping Widow" and "Sign of the Gypsy Queen". Thus, it's a real treat to have come across Rusted and its thirteen tracked Rock Patrol full-length debut (independently released in 2013) as the liberally rocking and ribald quintet magnificently evokes said hometown heroes, from a debonair, hot-to-trot front man in Tony Rust (more or less the second coming of Myles Goodwin) to a gripping and easy-going, at times breezily mellow cast of fun-loving musicians who clearly know how to ply their trade; namely, fluid and melodic, often bouncy, guitar riffs and languid progressions, fierce albeit sinuous solos, domineering bass lines and airy, unrestrained drums. Granted, on first listen, some might find the boys glaringly cheesed out but those who stick around will fully revel in the album's vintage appeal, a downright awesome titular opener withstanding.

Effectively, "Rock Patrol" proper kick starts this auspicious affair in grand-standing fashion with a wicked, back-handed cruiser of a guitar riff as well as tasty, meat and potatoes cymbal tapped drum beat capped by some of the catchiest party-flavored vocals this side of the St. Lawrence - the initial verse and gang festooned chorus are simply spectacular:

"I'm a rocker, roller
Long haired man,
My leather jacket is my signal card
I know where I'm going
Don't know where I've been

Rocking in the city
Burning down the streets


Put on your uniform
And kick those bastards to the ground
Soldiers show you denim and leather
Throw your fists up in the air
Rock Patrol!
Tattooed on my soul
Rock Patrol!
Calling to my bones!

The searing, expressive solos which follow exude a beckoning glow reminiscent of Ste-Catherine Street East’s neon flashing lights (i.e. Montreal’s super seedy but oh-so-coveted Red Light district). Ax men Eagle and Maniac put on a great show, whether it's on more romantically wistful fare such as "Just A Dream" or “Last Stand” - which evokes fellow Canuck rock worthies Blue Rodeo and Northern Pikes - or the urbanely jostling and liberating “Too Much Is Never Enough” and sleazy, female ooing and aahing imbued “So Far So Strong”, as they unequivocally instill fond recollections of lewd April Wine classics such as “All Over Town”, “Caught in the Crosshairs" and “Big City Girls” (to wit, there’s a general, underlying Nature of the Beast circa 1981 vibe permeating the album as a whole), notably on the former thanks to Rust’s horny, hip-shaking twang as well as raunchily kooky lines such as “There’s a bitchin’ baby walking down the street – politically correct, I don’t think so!” and “This beauty queen had a dirty mind, I said to myself, she’s got to be mine!”. Hurrr!

Bassist Mark Shark and drummer Dizzy also pull their weight through-out; their presence is duly noted on the more raucous tracks such as “Rock Patrol” and “Devil In A Dress”, be it from their steady, bopping lines/beats or jangling, slap-happy rhythms. I especially dig the extra weight they bring to the bang-up, Def Leppard-ish arena rocker, “Tsunami”, of which the resoundingly engaging chorus wouldn’t sound at all out of place during the intermission at a Canadiens hockey game. Paradoxically, this number features a slew of exotic harmonies/leads which readily make one sit up and take notice.

A particularly compelling, stand-out track which infallibly plasters a smile on my face is the super melodious and catchy “Partner In Crime”; here, Rust fully displays his singing prowess, even matching the Tragically Hip’s legendary Gord Downie (RIP) in terms of passion and all-around sensational motilities, especially on the “hip” chorus. The musicianship is also at the top of its game; one is certainly not left wanting amidst the guitarists' crisply poised and portentously skimmering guitar riffs as well as fleeting, laser-sharp backing licks rounded off by a stalwart, shimmering finger-tapped lead break.

My only constructive critisism involves the last couple of saccharine swingers, “True Eyes of Love” and “Young, Wild and Free”, which, due to their complacent easy-listening langor, detract from their predecessors' riveting free-riding glory. In other words, eleven tracks, ending with the rollicking, drum dominated full-blown rocker, “Devil in a Dress”, would have sufficed aplenty. Regardless, considering this is the band's first full-length venture, there's really not much to reproach or finger-wag at.

Fans of upbeat and non-committal wild-oat sowing fare such as Cauldron, The Dagger, White Wizzard, Spell, Blackslash and Monument owe it to themselves to check out Rusted’s Rock Patrol (n.b. the “Rock Patrol” track's groovy and laid-back flair smacks of WW’s “West L.A. Nights” while the youthful, fist-pumping chorus to “Scream” brings to mind fellow Canadians Spell and Cauldron). What’s more, the crystalline albeit bass-rich production parallels said bands; to a certain extent, the album’s darker passages, however few, even remind me of Sweden’s Night. As a cheeky side note, I’m willing to ascribe extra points thanks to its uber-cool, retro cover art – the swanky tiger print hat actually makes me think of Degrassi’s memorable token juvenile delinquent, Joey Jeremiah! (In case you're wondering, it was an essential coming-of-age TV show/drama from my youth which revolved around a fictional Toronto high school). Anyhow, I’m incredibly grateful to have stumbled upon this release and strongly encourage like-minded metal heads/rockers to "put on their uniform" and follow in my footsteps.