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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Album Review - WhoCares - Out of My Mind/Holy Water

WhoCares - Out of My Mind/Holy Water CD single
2011 Armoury Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.



You might recall Hear 'n Aid, the eighties' all-metal answer to USA For Africa, the all-star pop ensemble who brought us (for better or worse) "We Are the World." In the case of Hear 'n Aid, the late Ronnie James Dio orchestrated a Who's Who batallion of metal giants united in the name of charity. Though Dio released a full album, it's Hear 'n Aid's round robin feel of "Stars" that's best remembered. Geoff Tate, Kevin Dubrow, Dee Snider, Rob Halford, Don Dokken, Craig Goldy, Yngwie Malmsteen, Blackie Lawless, George Lynch, Dave Murray and Adrian Smith are just a a handful of Hear 'n Aid's amped-up roster which raised money for Ethiopian famine relief in Africa back in the day.

26 years later, heavy metal royalty comes together again to raise money for the benefit of Armenia, which is still feeling bits of the 1988 earthquake devastation prompting Gillan and Iommi to take action. Particularly, they are targeting a shellacked music school in Gyumri for their philanthropic efforts. Offically dubbed WhoCares and also referred to as "Ian Gillan, Tony Iommi & Friends," this alliance featuring Gillan and Iommi also includes Nicko McBrain, Jon Lord, Jason Newsted and Linde Lindstrom.

We're going to dispense with an actual rating of this project because of WhoCares' intent. Like Hear 'n Aid, we're not necessarily here to gauge the output or the talent going into the endeavor. The talent speaks for itself in both cases. While Hear 'n Aid's album in 1985 consisted of the "Stars" single plus live tracks from Kiss, Accept, Rush, Motorhead, Y&T, Scorpions, Dio and a posthumous contribution from Jimi Hendrix, WhoCares is coming forward with a two-song maxi-single designed to fund a resurrection of the music school in Gyumri, Armenia.

While the aforementioned ensemble of Gillan, et.al. only appear together on one of the two songs, "Out of My Mind," Gillan and Iommi, joining audile forces for the first time since Black Sabbath's Born Again, hitch up with a scratch group of session players on "Holy Water."

As you might expect, both songs plod melancholia with Iommi's doom-driven chuff with Ian Gillan drawling effortlessly overtop. Of course they make it look easy and while each track is roughly six minutes apiece, it's "Out of My Mind" which is Out of My Mind/Holy Water which will draw the most attention simply for the pedigree thrumming it out. Each player has a signature sound coming into "Out of My Mind" and while the obvious conveyance would've been to celebrate the prowess of each player with individual solo decorations, WhoCares sticks together and still come off as singular and fundamental despite the congruency.

Out of My Mind/Holy Water is an enhanced disc that includes a half hour documentary delving more into where Gillan and Iommi are coming from with this project. It's enough that Iommi and Gillan have buried the proverbial hatchet against long-ago trangressions to kickstart this triumvirate; hearing and seeing Gillan and former Deep Purple bandmate Jon Lord working together is nifty unspoken hatchet burying in its own right.

It helps WhoCares' appeal offering listeners a chance to be witness to three generations of metal craftsman working together. Linde Lindstrom of HIM demonstrates he knows trad metal along with doom, since HIM's Goth rock stance lends itself well to doom measures. Journeyman Jason Newsted follows up his stint in Voivod to stand tall with the cheery stick work of Nicko Brain and Tony Iommi's droning chops. You can't help but think of Metallica's raping of Newsted's bass lines on the original print of And Justice For All, particularly when sections of "Out of My Mind" turn the dial up for him.

Instead of peeling off a rating for Out of My Mind/Holy Water, let's just say earnestly you should support WhoCares. Staking the future of would-be musicians is what drew these legends together. The thundering drag of WhoCares on both tracks is the reward, so to speak, the perk, the donation thank you. These are Stars in their own right and Ronnie Dio would've been proud.

1 comment:

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