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Sunday, December 30, 2007

CD Review: Rob Rock - Garden of Chaos

Rob Rock - Garden of Chaos
2007 Candlelight Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

While younger eyes may chuckle at the moniker of Rob Rock, there's no doubt the name has historically commanded absolute respect in the metal world. One key reason is for Rob's work with the underappreciated Impellitteri. Another is the fact that Rob was in league with the legendary Tony MacAlpine, Tommy Aldrige and Rudy Sarzo in 1986 for the M.A.R.S. cult classic Project Driver. Rob's also popped up in other avenues such as Joshua, Axel Rudi Pell, Warrior and Driver, just to name a few. Nevermind the countless guest appearances and session performances his name is tagged to.

As a solo artist, Rob Rock has embraced who he is and always will be, a commanding power metal vocalist who surrounds himself with no less than capable musicians who give him the drive and energy to propel himself and his spiritual messages of hope. On his fourth solo album Garden of Chaos, the only surprise is the extra polish compared to 2005's Holy Hell.

Garden of Chaos is both leaner and stronger than Rob's previous solo work, largely due to the co-production and co-writing of power metal savant and guitar ace Roy Z. Rob's association with Roy Z has been a long-standing affair, and the duo penned seven of the album's eleven tracks together. Assuredly Z's heavily-strummed influence is reflected on songs like "Metal Breed," "Satan's Playground" and "Savior's Call."

As the central theme of Garden of Chaos is a lamenting search for God's lost paradise, the album takes on a larger-than-life quality on "Savior's Call" as well as the pulsing chug of "Spirit in the Sky" and the soaring speed of "Milennial Reign." If all Christian-based music sounded this triumphant instead of chiefly sappy...

Rob Rock's convincing delivery in a heavy metal strategm that opens up for the wistful ballad "Unconditional" and the uplifting acoustic-driven finale "Ode to Alexander" is the reason Garden of Chaos succeeds as well as it does. Assuredly this is his finest hour as a solo artist and with Carljohan Grimmark and Andreas Johansson providing a thoroughly stable rhythm section (along with Roy Z and a cotillion of guest musicians including Liza Rock all in tow), Garden of Chaos is a statement piece in a career already defined well before it.

Rating: ****

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