Fozzy ‘Sin and Bones’ Review

I should probably back up a bit and say that – while I am a HUGE fan of Chris Jericho (the wrestler, the author and the man himself) I’ve never actually listened to a Fozzy song before today.  I am – however – a dude that has loved metal for 30 years (not to mention one that’s been playing metal guitar for 23 of those years).  And here’s the thing – Chris Jericho is so very good at everything else that he does that I thought “Why not?” and spent the $7.99 to download it on iTunes (please pay for your music kiddies – it’s the right thing to do – you’ll get karma points later). Truth be told – even as I sat down to write this I was a little worried that I might hate it (and that would’ve sucked – who would ever really wanna write a bad word about Jericho – I mean c’mon!).  Well – I needn’t have worried – this CD is one solid and diverse piece of metal!  Let’s take a look at the tracks themselves.

The CD opens with “Spider in My Mouth”.  The first things you notice are the guitar tones and intelligent songwriting.  Then it’s the production, lyrics and finally Y2J’s voice (there really is something to the theory that the metal singers come into their own when pushing 40 and Jericho’s obviously no exception).  Not knowing what to expect (again this was the first time I ever listened to the band) I was stoked and couldn’t wait to hear more.  Did I mention that you can actually hear bass guitar in the mix (another sign of above-average production values).
The 2nd track (“Sandpaper”) was also solid – a little more tuneful with some Bruce Dickinson-esque vocals from Mr. Y2J (nicely done).  I was completely knocked on my ass by the 3rd track (“Blood Happens”) with its combination of heavy riffs and contrasting clean/death vocals.  In the spirit of some of the best thrash songs they change it up in the middle – going all atmospheric before delivering the crowd-pleasing obligatory solo spot and then returning to the heavy.  Track 4 (“Inside My Head”) starts with atmospheric clean chording and is definitely a throwback to what made 80’s metal great (trust me – if you were a real fan back in the day you’ll get it).  This one’s definitely not so much heavy as it is epic, moody and melodic with tempo and velocity changes in all the right places.  Track 5 (“Sin and Bones”) starts with a super-thrashy guitar riff with artificial harmonics aplenty.  About a minute into this one it becomes obvious why it’s the title track (I really hope they push this as a single/video).  This one’s super-catchy and the drumming in particular sounds amazing (kudos to the gentleman behind the kit and whoever produced this track for making the skins really pop).
Track 6 (“A Passed Life”) starts with a little atmospheric intro that kinda almost gave me a Beatles vibe.  This is definitely ‘the ballad’ but unlike the 80’s trend where the slow song was the commercial cash cow and simultaneously the weakest and most embarrassing tune on the album this track is totally rock solid.  The song begins with a softer and different vocal style and – in the vein of classic Led Zeppelin – builds to bombastic finish.  What I really dug about the build though was how they got there with a sense of restraint and tension-building that really showcases the band’s excellent sense of pacing and dynamics.  Classic metal fans (like yours truly) will probably consider this the strongest song on the CD.
Track 7 (“She’s My Addiction”) showcases a boogie vibe to start and is definitely the grooviest track at this point in the album.  I can’t say how cool it is that these guys have somehow managed to recreate what was great about the sound of metal in its heyday without succumbing to the Velveeta factor (I was as big a fan as one could’ve been when metal was on top and I still find a whole lot of those CDs tough to listen to now).
Track 8 (“Shine Forever”) drops us right back into the heavy place with a low-tuned guitar intro that morphs into a melodic and clean guitar bit before jumping right back into the very heavy place again.  This one’s a slow and heavy monster and Jericho’s clean and powerful vocals totally work in this context.  Totally impressed with the continued ‘light and shade’ approach the band incorporates in this track as well.  Track 9 (“Dark Passenger”) actually features a classy piano/organ intro and strings in the intro before the heavy kicks in.  The lyrics on this one definitely suggest a ‘Dexter’ influence (speaking of which – when is that series starting up again – seems like it’s been off the air forever).  One thing that becomes really apparent as the CD unfolds is just how tight the 2-guitar team is.  They often play parts that are similar but slightly different with contrasting tones and are always super-tight.  Track 10 (“Storm the Beaches”) is a monster 11-minute jam that starts with piano and jumps right into a wicked thrashy riff, goes through all kinds of tempo changes and finally resolves with a trippy organ outro.  This is definitely the prog-rock track on the disc and huge songwriting achievement onto itself.  Track 11 (“Walk Amongst the Dead”) drops us right back into heavy and groovy.  I really loved the guitar tones on this one – the band seems to really shine when they’re working this type of sludgy, mid-tempo vibe.  More killer lead work on this one with some Slayer-esque almost atonal harmony stuff on the outro.  The album ends with the band taking on the old Sabbath gem “Fairies Wear Boots” and doing a respectable job at that.  Covers are a strange bird – sometimes the best thing you can do is a verbatim read but on the other hand you also have license to do something different and people will love or hate it based on where you take it.  The band sticks tight to the arrangement and the Sabbath groove albeit with more guitar gain and a double-tracked Jericho vocal.

By the time I listened to this for the third time I realized that I was listening to something special – that this was one of those rare and special moments when a band actually puts out the record they wanted to make.  I know that may sound arrogant as I’m not in the band but – believe me – I’ve been in bands and when things go right (as they most certainly did on this CD) there’s a magic that literally jumps out of the speakers and grips you with a palpable sense of audio joy.  I can’t wait to see these guys do this live.