The Dead Daisies, Holy Ground: Album Review!

The Dead Daisies are an Australian-American hard rock band. Formed back in 2012 by Australian businessman David Lowry, the band has comprised many huge members of the music scene across it’s now 5 studio albums, from former members such as Dizzy Reed, Richard Foetus and Frank Ferrer of Guns n Roses fame, Doug Aldrich and John Tempesta. With last year’s departures of John Corabi and Marko Mendoza, two of the driving forces behind 2018’s excellent ‘Burn It Down’, I have to admit I was a little sceptical. Especially when they replaced both members with just one, Glenn Hughes, a man I personally am not that invested in or a fan of. However, having listened to one of the singles it did change my mind somewhat, and Aldrich is still one hell of a player so I am excited to hear what this line-up has cooked up for us!

The rock band starts off hard on the title track, Holy Ground (Shake the Memory), exploding in with a huge sounding, pretty heavy guitar riff. It drops back slightly when the verse starts but the riff stays present between the vocal lines, giving off pretty major modern Slash vibes. Glenn’s vocals sound just as good as ever, sounding somehow just as good as he did back in the 70s. His voice is powerful and soaring and he actually adds quite a lot with his bass lines too, doing a few runs that would fit perfectly with his Deep Purple tenure. The song drops down even more in the pre-chorus before exploding forth with a huge guitar and bass riff into a big, catchy, open chorus. The backing vocals are what really make it great for me, being easy to sing along to and remember, making it an easy potential highlight live. We get another verse and chorus before a blisteringly awesome solo from Aldrich, showing off his technical talent as well as his skill with a wah pedal. Another little drop-out before a final great double chorus, the second half complete with some more subtle lead guitar work and the song ends with a heavier, double timed version of the intro riff. A fantastic way to open an album and definitely a great choice for a last single as this was the one that ultimately won me over into doing this review. Playlisted!

Like No Other (Bassline), if you couldn’t guess from the title alone, is very focused on the band’s new bassist. Opening on a short few high notes from Hughes before he drops into the awesome lower-end riff when the drums and guitar kicks in, it’s clear they’re making use of all of the man’s talents. The bass itself drops out for much of the verses, dropping out leaving the simple guitar riff and drumbeat behind the powerful vocals. The chorus, while not quite as good as the previous song’s, is still pretty good and catchy, especially in its final two lines when it all cuts out and lets Glenn release his inner Robert Plant, firing off some impressively powerful high notes. The added high harmonies on the second chorus sound awesome, adding some great depth but also makes the first chorus feel flat in comparison. The key change behind the guitar solo was a nice touch and changeup and, again just like the name suggests, we get a lot more bass, this time a solo from the man himself that is just backed by the drums. It’s an awesome solo, almost reminding me of something Flea would come up with live, however the call of ‘can you feel my bassline?’ just before he himself solos did get a little cringe out of me, I must admit. Dropping down into the drums and a simple guitar riff while the backing singers do their chorus lines sounded awesome, and may be the highlight of the song so far for me. The song builds back into a final epic chorus to finish, and this was another fantastic song. So far so good!

Jody Blont review

Come Alive opens on an interesting little guitar and drum riff before it quickly builds into an awesome groove riff, eerily reminiscent of Find the Real by Alter Bridge. Unfortunately for me the verse kicks in and goes back to the lighter first riff, eliminating the impact of the heavier one somewhat. It felt like an odd choice and a little disjointed, as good as the music itself sounded. The chorus makes up for it, another big, open sound, packed with soaring, catchy vocals and huge guitar chords. A short bridge after the second chorus leads to a surprisingly simple guitar solo, but it actually sounded awesome and very effective. As usual we come out of that into a big final chorus before the great groovy riff is brought back as an outro and somehow heavied up even more with some vocals and soloing over the top. An awesome ending to a pretty decent song overall.

Heavy Rock Festival in the UK. Hard Rock Festival

 Unfortunately, by the time Bustle and Flow had come around, I was starting to get a little sick of the same old formula and sound and feel. It’s a good song, don’t get me wrong, but it is similar to the others so far on the album and I would say the other three are of better quality. That is why the next song, My Fate, was a nice and welcome change. Somehow being one of the album’s slower songs, it follows the same structure of dropped down, stripped back verse sandwiched between huge riffs and choruses. However, it is done at such a swaggering, sludgy pace that it sounds awesome and is easily set apart from the rest of the album. The riff is one of the highlights of the album and again the chorus is catchy and easy to interact with live. Add that to the awesome, epic outro and this was another song that easily made the playlist!

The variance and interest don’t last too long, though. Saving Grace and Unspoken both fall into the same trap as Bustle and Flow do, being so similar to other, better songs on the album that they both kind of get lost in the shuffle. Both are good songs, don’t get me wrong, with Unspoken itself having one of the best choruses on the album and Saving Grace does have an awesome riff in the middle, but outside of those two points the songs are little forgettable amidst the frankly better singles.

30 Days in the Hole at least changes things up a bit, though I’m torn on whether it’s for the better or worse. It is a simpler, slower song, but it is also a lot lighter than the others so far on this album. It is a glam/70s rock song through and through which, while it is very good and they obviously do it very well (they are all primarily from that era and sound), it’s all stuff that has been done already. I’m a fan of the band because they are guys who cut their teeth doing the older style but have since come together to produce a more modern, heavier sound together, something that feels and sounds pretty new as not that many larger bands are doing this sort of style. So, when they deviate from that and play something a little more like their older stuff, I kind of switch off, as I know it won’t be as good as their old stuff. I know it’s nitpicky as it is a good song, but I’d say because of it all it’s the worst on the album.

Before I looked at the title, I thought Righteous Days was a cover of The Cult’s, She Sells Sanctuary, the riff is very similar. However, after said riff gives way to the verses and awesome choruses, what follows is a damn good, enjoyable hard rock song. Then, finally, we reach the seemingly now obligatory slow ballad to close out the album, Far Away. Anyone who’s a regular reader of these reviews knows how sick I am of slow songs closing out the album, how too many albums last year closed out with a whimper instead of a much more preferable bang. By all means, put the slower ballad towards the end of the album, but having it be THE end doesn’t have quite the epic feel that they are all clearly going for. They try to drag me back in around halfway through (3 minutes into a 7-minute song) with an awesome riff, but then immediately stop it after a minute when the solo is finished, dropping back down into the chorus again. The chorus itself is good, as is the song as a whole, but it being the last song has left a real bitter taste in my mouth. It also feels disjointed as all heck, too, as after they have their final chorus, we get another heavy riff, completely different to anything else in the song, and we get along, distorted outro. It feels like they just combined a few mismatched ideas together as neither of the heavier bits fit with the rest of the song. I guess they just figured no one would want to hear 7 full minutes of slow cleanness to close out an album, and they’d be pretty right. A slightly disappointing end to an otherwise pretty good album.

Conclusion

Overall, this far exceeded my expectations. Being a HUGE fan of Corabi and Mendoza and the stuff they wrote with the band, I was dubious to see if Hughes could fill such big boots on his own. While I don’t think this is quite as good as Burn it Down, it is still a solid album and a pretty decent addition to their back catalogue. Heck, the fact that there are plenty of songs on it that I’d love to see live is a testament to that!

Overall: 7/10.

The review by musician, blogger & author – Joe Griffiths

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