The Rods - Vengeance
2011 Niji Entertainment
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
Absolutely one of the unsung heroes of heavy metal is The Rods. Though bred in upstate New York, those who have closely studied the genre have been obliged to correlate The Rods with both eighties punk and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.
It's not just because The Rods recorded one of their hallmark albums Wild Dogs in the UK in 1982, as did Twisted Sister with Under the Blade. Faster than you could yell "The Yanks're coming!" The Rods had quckly entrenched themselves in the English metal scene a year prior with their self-titled album. Though best remembered for their loud 'n rude Let Them Eat Metal in 1984, The Rods had a killer little run. Too bad they weren't able to captitalize on their immediate standing in the early years of metal. Much like Tygers of Pan Tang, The Rods are forefathers who often get overlooked.
Since their heyday, David "Rock" Feinstein, Carl Canedy and Garry Bordonaro have kept somewhat of a low profile. Bordonaro left The Rods, who later became a foursome with mixed bag results. Eventually Feinstein would quietly do his thing after The Rods while Canedy relocated from the drummer's stool to the producer's chair, engineering such thrash classics as Overkill's Feel the Fire, Anthrax's Spreading the Disease and Exciter's Violence and Force.
This year, following his most recent solo album Bitten By the Beast, Feinstein calls his vintage era Rods legionnaires back into action for a new trip down the glory trail. Vengeance is perhaps The Rods' expressive way of making up for lost time, though the bigger connotation assuredly is intended to assuage Feinstein's pain of losing his cousin and former Elf bandmate Ronnie James Dio.
As he did on Bitten By the Beast, Dio lends his enigmatic voice to The Rods on "The Code," presumably recorded before Feinstein's solo album. "The Code" hails a muscular performance by the late Ronnie Dio, much as Vengeance as a whole is a mean machine of unapologetic old school crunch. Fortified by Feinstein, Bordonaro and Canedy, The Rods are well in the pocket on Vengeance. Not every song is gold, but Vengeance does accomplish what it sets out to do, which is to recapture a holistic metal vibe that should've carried The Rods longer than it did.
"Runnin' Wild" is a specialized power trip, while the title song ushers a headbanging pulse matched by "Raise Some Hell," "I Just Wanna Rock" and "Rebels Highway." "Let it Ripp" jettisons off the favorably intense Dio duet and though it takes The Rods a couple of bars in each of a few subsequent songs to regain their girth (the breakdown on "Livin' Outside the Law" is titanic), Vengeance comes off like a testing ground album which largely passes the grade.
Vengeance is superior to Bitten By the Beast, but no doubt ol' Rock is having himself quite a year already. As he maintains family relations with the Wendy Dio-controlled Niji Entertainment, who's knows what other Dio treasures he managed to lock down for future edification?
The bigger story to Vengeance is the solid statement delivered by The Rods as a reunited entity, not so much the fact they boast a selling point single with Ronnie James Dio's posthumous stamp upon it. Certainly it helps to have Dio's blessing on Vengeance, but it's the remainder of the album that's subject to scrutiny. Not much to rail on here. The Rods are back, so crank it up.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
The Rods - Vengeance