One of the finest guitar players in rock

The man behind one of Ozzy Osbourne’s finest albums, Bark at the Moon, has returned with his new band Red Dragon Cartel.

Jake E.Lee may have kept a low profile for the best part of the last two decades but one of the finest guitar players in rock has fortunately rekindled his passion and in doing so has dragged along with him a host of guest artists to appear in his new band’s first release.

It’s a wide ranging cast of guests Lee has assembled as well, headed by Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander and including former Pantera bassist Rex Brown, original Iron Maiden vocalist Paul Di’Anno, Slash’s Conspirators, Todd Kearn and Brent Fitz, In This Moment’s Maria Brink, Five Finger Death Punch’s Jeremy Spencer and Kyuss’ Scott Reeder. While RDC are now a complete band following a Facebook campaign to uncover a vocalist and drummer, the majority of songs on the self titled debut consist of Ronnie Manusco alongside Lee and his cast of many.

Even if the album revolves around Jake E.Lee’s endless talent, its interesting to see how each of the guest artists are able to somehow slice off a bit of the Lee pie to showcase their wares. For instance, Zander on the track ‘Feeder’ shines with an almost psychedelic feel and Maria Brink provides a Joan Jett-like moment that is a nice change up on ‘Big Mouth’.

Despite the recent infamous Whisky-A-Go-Go performance where Darren James Smith was heckled, his vocals are actually quite decent. On the opener, ‘Deceived’, featuring an incredible opening riff by Lee, Smith immediately gets the audience on the back foot with his higher notes and will no doubt divide opinion with his edgy vocal range. However by the chorus you can see why he was chosen from the numerous applicants on Facebook.

Di’Anno provides the vocals on ‘Wasted’, a groove track that suits the former Maiden front man’s guttural tones. ‘War Machine’ is another slab of rock but it must be said that the intro has a very familiar Sabbath ‘War Pigs’ vibe to it and a definite Iommi riff following. Nonetheless this a highlight for that very reason and Smith thrives in this type of 70s drenched metal.

The album concludes with a piano solo, not really surprising considering the jumble of tracks and musicians found across the debut. However, despite the lack of continuity, RDC have released a strong first up effort and with the band now settled on its line up, the next Cartel production should be a much anticipated release. In the meantime, RDC is a great return for Jake E.Lee and a solid album to kick off 2014.

1. Deceived
2. Shout it Out
3. Feeder
4. Fall from the Sky
5. Wasted
6. Slave
7. Big Mouth
8. War Machine
9. Redeem Me
10. Exquisite Tenderness