Red Lamb – Red Lamb

0

Review by Jason Guest

When it was announced that the ex-Anthrax guitarist Dan Spitz was to team up with the very-Megadeth Dave Mustaine for Red Lamb, many mistook that to mean that the two would be forming some sort of super group. And after one listen to this début, you’d think that that is exactly what it is. Even though Spitz has written all of the music and the leads are all his, this has got Mustaine plastered all over it. From start to finish, this sounds like a pinny-clad Mustaine has taken Spitz’s ideas home, put them through the Megawash, hung ‘em out to dry, ironed out all the creases, and then folded them neatly into the Megapile we have here. It’s not enough that the lyrics, co-written by Spitz and Mustaine, are saturated with the Megadeth main-man’s idiosyncrasies, even vocalist Don Chaffin’s delivery, phrasing, and snarl sounds so much like Mustaine that if it weren’t for his subtle vibrato, you’d wonder whether anything more than Chaffin’s chuffin’ mug shot makes an appearance on the damned thing! But whether this is a Spitz album, a Red Lamb album, a Megadeth album, or a Mustaine solo album featuring Spitz on lead (as if that’d ever happen!), it’s still pretty damned good.

This smacks of the 90s – probably because that’s the last time Spitz wrote any music besides this – and there are hints of hard rock and even a hint of nu-metal (Gah!) among the speed/thrash riffing and curled-lip scowling. Spitz’s guitar work displays a distinct shift in style from his Anthrax days. For his leads, he abandons the obligatory sweeps and shreds in favour of more emotive phrasing for a more textural approach and his tight rhythm playing locks in well with Patrick Johansson’s pummelling drumming to provide plenty nasty grooves. Lyrically, Spitz and Mustaine take on the personal as well as the political, the world and the folly of its dwellers providing plenty in the way of subject matter (and much in the way of clichés). ‘Puzzle Box’ deals with Autism – a condition close to Spitz’s heart as his twin sons suffer from this affliction – ‘One Shell (in the chamber)’ takes on suicide (though the nu metal riffs probably wouldn’t save anyone on the wrong side of a skyscraper window), and ‘War Paint’ laments the demise of the land of the free (given his much-publicised recent onstage rants, Mustaine must’ve loved working on this one). A little samey here and there and a little reliant on 90s metal clichés – musically and lyrically – Mustaine has done well to draw the best out of Spitz.

Obviously, Anthrax and Megadeth are everywhere to be found (particularly the latter with Mustaine’s (heavy) hand at the helm), but what comes across the most however is the zeal behind the project. Whatever a Mustaine/Spitz collaboration promised, Red Lamb delivers. An album that’s worth the asking price and well worth a follow up, this is one not to be overlooked either by fans of the Big Four – or in this case the Whopping Two – or fans of modern metal. Well worth a blast.

Red Lamb7 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. The Cage
  2. Runaway Train
  3. Standby Passenger
  4. One Shell (In The  Chamber)
  5. Puzzle Box
  6. Watchman
  7. Keep Pushing Me
  8. Get Up
  9. Don’t Threaten To Love Me
  10. Angels Of War
  11. Warpaint
  12. Temptation