“BURN THE SHIPS”
Album Review By Rick Tilley
Since I’ve been writing I’ve met some great people in the music industry and some not so great people. That’s par for the course in most walks of life I suppose but luckily a majority have been the real deal. One of the really good people I’ve been introduced to in recent weeks is Natalie Conway. Professional, motivated, passionate, hardworking and very knowledgeable about the bands she looks after and music in general, it’s been a pleasure to meet her. She has also sent some wonderful releases through to Ever Metal for us to listen to and the first one I’m reviewing is a cracker of mammoth proportions.
Blacktop Mojo are based in Palestine, Texas and ‘Burn The Ships’ is their second album. I’ve not heard the first ‘I Am’ (2014) so I’m not going to give you a history lesson because I’ve got too much to say about this release. If you love huge southern coated riffs, catchy choruses, real feeling and great playing and you’ve got an interest in bands such as Alter Bridge, Shinedown, Rival Sons, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Soundgarden, Black Stone Cherry, The Black Crowes and Alice In Chains then Blacktop Mojo are going to hit you square between the eyes and knock you flying because this album is BIG and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Blacktop Mojo will be huge!
Kicking off with ‘Where The Wind Blows’ is the perfect way to start ‘Burn The Ships’. Acoustic guitar leads into a riff that defies proportions and it has a foot stomping tempo that’ll get your head moving immediately. When the vocals of Matt James kick in then you know you’re onto a winner. Think Brent Smith meets Myles Kennedy and you are part way there. His voice is perfect for U.S. Stadium Rock, with power and grit, a great range as well as being able to hear every word sung, but when a ballad does arrive absolutely able to deal with that as well! ‘End Of Days’ picks the pace up but the song is just as catchy. The title track is up next, it’s another barnstormer and also proves that lyrical content is not just going to be about love and heartache, being the story of Captain Hernán Cortés who in 1519 landed his fleet at Veracruz to begin his conquest and ordered all the ships to be burnt, leaving his men no choice but to succeed as there was no escape route other than forwards. This also explains the cover art and is a clever analogy for a band that is aiming to make waves and not fail.
Blacktop Mojo write songs that are as commercial as hell but they never veer into Pop/Rock territory. ‘Burn The Ships is loaded with tracks that could easily end up on the radio but not one of them feels syrupy or too polished. Authentic Rock N’ Roll and Blues flows through the veins of everyone. Kenneth Irwin’s rhythm guitar crunches through the speakers, Ryan Kiefer presents some fabulous solos that soar and the rhythm section of bassist Matt Curtis and drummer Nathan Gillis, sounds like detonation charges have been set of in a building and they all complement one another beautifully. ‘Prodigal’, ‘Sweat’, ‘Pyromaniac’, ‘Dog On A Leash’ and more fly by but you’ll be singing them within the first or second listen, so memorable are they! Some of the kudos must also go to Philip Mosley who produced the album and Austin Deptula who mixed and mastered it because this sounds huge.
Blacktop Mojo are also not content with giving us twelve fantastic original songs because, about two thirds of the way through, they have presented one of the best cover versions I’ve ever heard. We all know what an incredible song Aerosmith’s ‘Dream On’ is but Blacktop Mojo have given it a completely new lease of life and Matt’s vocals are quite simply sublime!
Listening to this has been like a hot Summers day on my face and as we approach lighter and warmer days I want to put on my battered cowboy boots, open a bottle of Jack and get outside with ‘Burn The Ships’ playing LOUD. Blacktop Mojo cannot be ignored, they are simply too good for that!
This review was originally written for Ever Metal: https://ever-metal.com/2017/03/10/blacktop-mojo-burn-the-ships/
Where The Wind Blows
End Of Days
Burn The Ships
Shadows On The Wall
Dog On A Leash
Make A Difference
Dream On (Aerosmith Cover)
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