Kee Marcello – Judas Kiss


Review by Brian McGowan


Ex-Easy Action and ex-Europe, Kee Marcello at last delivers a third solo album, and it comes out the blocks with a kick and a snarl. He’s clearly aiming to make up for the Redux mistake. The religious imagery is almost overwhelming, with Marcello portraying himself as the angel Gabriel on the album cover – the man with the message – and inside quoting extensively from Rosetti’s ‘Lilith’. Having survived a drug-fuelled face off with mortality, maybe the “Rockstar That God Forgot” is simply reflecting on the temptations of the flesh.

The music’s heavvvvvy too. We might have expected Marcello’s stint in Europe to have cast a long shadow, but no, he’s distanced himself from the light and now dwells in the darkness at the edge of hard rock, where raw, unpolished sounds ring out and metal creeps in, densely packed with sturdy melodies and razor clawed axe work. It’s undeniably intense, almost claustrophobic at times, to the extent that when his anthemic, epic cover of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ cranks up into electric action toward the end of the album, the tension is palpably relieved, bigtime. Oh, the irony.

Anyone suffering from A.D.D. will struggle to assimilate the album’s 13 tracks and 58 minutes. But anyone in it for the long haul will be amply rewarded. The album is brimful of painstakingly crafted songs. Hulking, hard rock bruisers, like ‘Dog Eat Dog’. ”Stoned’, which strays, tantalisingly, into Industrial Metal territory, creating a provocative soundscape that drips with steam and sweat, and ‘Starless’, a heavy metal hymn, where Marcello reaches for that “awesome melodic moment’, lifted up by a smokin’ choir of angels. But it’s the title track, ‘Judas Kiss’ that sets up the album’s raison d’etre.  An urgent riff conveys an underlying sense of menace and unease and Marcello spits and snarls, driven by either rampant paranoia or the raw emotional truth.

Flip to the other side of the coin. The romantic ballad, ‘Coming Home’ (which first appeared on ‘Melon Demon Divine’) seems to suggest love as a kind of earthly salvation. It’s as if something deep in his memory, walled over by his narcosis has suddenly been liberated and now has a tale to tell. So much is said, but you sense that even more is left unsaid. Elsewhere, Marcello confronts the mundanities of everyday life on the road with ‘The Harder They Come’ and goes back to spitting venom on closer, ‘Metal Box”, to the extent that it borders on the tiresome. Still, there are half a dozen or more huge tracks at the album’s core that make it an extremely attractive proposition.

Kee Marcello - Judas Kiss7.5 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Zombie
  2. Dog Eat Dog
  3. Starless Sky
  4. I’m Stoned
  5. Dead End Highway
  6. Judas Kiss
  7. And Forever More
  8. Coming Home
  9. Get On Top
  10. The Harder They Come
  11. Dead Give Away
  12. Love Will Tear Us Apart
  13. Metal Box