Musicians are a funny breed, and putting two together can have strange results: those chemicals will either bubble and sparkle, or fizz flatly and falter, but I’m happy to report that in the case of Waste Down Rebels, it’s the former. For their fourth album, Mercies And Curses, Waste Down Rebels’ Rick Ayers has teamed up with Lillian Axe’s Steve Blaze, for what appears to be a marriage made in rock n’ roll heaven. The combination of Rick’s raucous riffs and Steve’s thought-provoking lyrics makes for a heady mix, and the resulting album will rock your socks off.
Both Rick and Steve have decades of experience in the field of rock and metal, and if you were expecting them to start easing of the gas, then think again. With a thunderous drum roll and one of the heaviest riffs known to man, opening track ‘Let My People Go’ gets straight down to business, and it sets a dangerous precedent for the next 45 minutes. Some music immediately grabs you by the collar and gives a good shake, and that’s certainly the case here, everything is wound up tight as a drum, and every ounce of fat has been jettisoned until all that’s left is pure, unadulterated hard rock. It’s the perfect mission statement, and the fusion of Rick’s guitar to Steve’s vocal is a lethal cocktail that will have the unconverted running for cover.
Musically, Mercies And Curses operates with the melodic crunch of classic Megadeth and Pantera. It’s a groove laden sound that swings from speaker to speaker like a huge wrecking ball, and such weighty music requires an equally weighty lyricism, and that’s where Steve Blaze comes in. Having garnered a lot of praise for his work on the last Lillian Axe album (reviewed here), Mr Blaze has brought a similar aesthetic to this project. The world is a hard place at the moment and it would have been easy for Steve to go down that route, but ultimately these are songs of hope…only married to an apocalyptic soundtrack! However, Mercies And Curses is an album that can be enjoyed on several levels: it’s a great album to blast out your car, but there’s also deeper meaning to be found if you care to excavate the album’s well of creativity.
Ebbing ang flowing like an old school album, there’s plenty of variety on offer and the progressive nature of ‘Seasons’ adds a moment of calm inside the swirling maelstrom. Reminding me of King’s X, it perfectly encapsulates the Waste Down Rebels experience, it’s forward facing, yet the band haven’t severed their roots, which makes it easy for the balls-to-the-wall, hell-for-leather ‘Fraction Of The Hole’ to sit effortlessly next to the more sedate ‘One Minute Closer’, before we’re back to the rock action with the rapid machine gun fire of ‘The Day We Take Our Own’. In fact, there’s a natural rhythm to this record that finds the lithe firing off the heavy, and light contrasted with shade. With chest-thumping drums and ear-splitting guitars, ‘Everybody Wants It All’ makes for a rumbustious closer, which is exactly where they came in…
The combination of Rick Ayers’ musical chops and Steve Blaze’s vocals and lyricism (along with a little help from friends) makes for an explosive mixture and Mercies And Curses will undoubtedly appear on many end-of-year ‘best of’ lists.
- Mercies And Curses is released via The Store For Music on 28th April 2023.
- Official Website
- Let My People Go
- The Fork In Your Tongue
- Mercies And Curses
- Slave The Day
- Fraction Of The Hole
- Black Hearted Drum
- One Minute Closer
- The Day We Take Our Own
- Set My Sights On You
- Everybody Wants It All