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THE RODS - Brotherhood Of Metal

Release date June 7/19 (Steamhammer)

Ah - The Rods. Loved by few, mercilessly heckled by most, the New York-based veterans lean into the headwinds and continue to issue infrequent albums despite the lack of success. I say, good on 'em ... to hell with the non-believers and all of that.

In business since 1980, the band has cranked out nine full lengths (including this newbie) of traditional metal of which Wild Dogs (from 1982) remains the undisputed classic. Simple is the key word here, as the three piece has made a career of making riff-focused, rudimentary metal, perfect for those beer-addled evenings of debauchery. Nothing challenging here, lots of repeated choruses and lyrics focused mainly on the culture of metal ('Everybody's Rockin'', 'Louder Than Loud', 'Tonight We Ride', etc.) played with a sense of fun.

The title track opens proceedings, finding the band doing a Manowar impersonation, lead guitarist/singer David '"Rock" Feinstein crooning at the piano before the track changes into a chest-beating thumper. Not bad, but luckily this proves to be an anomaly, the band returning to their riff-centred roots the rest of the way. New to the show though is the addition of keyboards to the sound. Mostly Hammond organ background to fill in the three-piece sound, they also take front stage infrequently to keep you on your toes. Old fans may be taken aback at first, but overall this works similar to Blackfoot when they introduced keyboardist Ken Hensley on the Siogo opus.

Gotta point out a few things though. The knuckle-dragging lyrics will force you to turn off the brain cells and there is one horrendous track ('Party All Night') that should never have been conceived, let alone recorded. Dance beat drums with funky bass start things out before Feinstein does a pseudo-rap leading into a brain-dead shout of the chorus. Putrid. Awful. Disturbing. Also, I'm disappointed that bassist Gary Bordonaro isn't given a chance to do some lead vocals here, his bluesier vox working well off Feinstein's more traditional larynx. Use the weapons that you got!

That said, The Rods haven't sounded this impassioned and focused since 1984's Let Them Eat Metal, providing ten consistently power packed tracks of thumping metal. The production is perfect, a great chugging guitar sound, along with the imposing rhythm section laying down the heavy as only they can. Carl Canedy plays some hard-ass drums that are thunderously clear here, while Bordonaro's rumbling, high energy bass sets the pace.

Bottom line, I'm all in on this and more than happy that such a hard luck band has been able to pull together and put out such a strong release this late in the game. Even taking chances while they're at it, I say hell yeah ... The Rods rule!

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