DRIVER – Countdown (2012)

DRIVER - Countdown (2012)

not the pre-production version floating around

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DRIVER formed from the ashes of ‘M.A.R.S. Project: Driver’ – the supergroup consisting of guitarist Tony MacAlpine, drummer Tommy Aldridge, singer Rob Rock and bassist Rudy Sarzo – who released a 5-song demo EP in 1987.

That was Rob Rock’s first appearance and it immediately cemented the man’s vocal capabilities in our collective memories. The band split soon and Rob went on to record with Joshua, Impellitteri, Axel Rudi Pell, Avantasia, to name a few.

Then in 2008 Rob Rock and Roy Z (axe slinger of Bruce Dickinson and Halford but at more recent days mostly busy as producer of Sebastian Bach, Helloween, etc.) thought it was time to resurrect DRIVER and recruited ‘Butch’ Carlson (the band’s original drummer in the mid-eighties) and completed the line-up with Aaron Samson (George Lynch) on bass and Ed Roth (Impellitteri, Glenn Hughes) on keys. The result was the ‘Sons Of Thunder’ album, and what a susprise that was, taking the melodic metal genre by storm.

Fast forward to 2012 and Driver have just released “Countdown”, a collection of brand new material and several rescued-from-the-vaults songs.

The overall feel to this release is late ’80s US Metal / Hard Rock with emphasis on the melodies.

There’s enough thrill and riffage on this album to please the Melodic Metal fan, however Rob’s vocal style is such that some tracks could quite easily enter into the Melodic Hard Rock territory.

Rousing anthems like “Hollywood Shooting Star” and “Return To The Sky” leave memorable choruses firmly implanted in your head, hiting all the notes that accomplished musicians and artists should do.

Engulfing power continues with “Cry Of The Wounded” and this takes me back to some of those classic songs you heard all that time ago, certainly the same feeling, but that is not to say that this is dated, it’s not, the songs actually sound timeless and have the ability to provide a cool sense of longevity.

Most the album is guitar driven, but as said, some tunes land on the Melodic Hard Rock field, like the stomping “Thief In The Night” (an old resurrected track), the melodious midtempo “Always On My Mind” or the killer hard rocker “Destiny”.

One of the best tracks on this CD is the European bonus track “Babylon”. I think this is outstanding, Roy Z simply rips this song apart with his playing. Why this track is not part of the general release only Driver and the record label know.

Driver are back with a great slab of hard ‘n heavy music, combining classic US Metal sounds with Melodic Hard Rock overtones.

The gentlemen involved in this project know exactly how a song from these genres has to be written, produced & performed so it comes as no surprise that the CD is oozing with melody & class with a band firing on all cylinders.

Rob Rock, as ever, is on fine form, and Roy Z chugs out some seriously hot riffs and really let’s rip with melodious soaring solos. The band controls the flow and release the moment when they need too.

You can’t really go wrong adding this CD to your collection, Driver step it up a gear and deliver a knockout blow with “Countdown”.

Recommended.

01 – Return To The Sky

02 – Rising Son

03 – Countdown

04 – Hollywood Shooting Star

05 – Thief In The Night

06 – Cry Of The Wounded

07 – Always On My Mind

08 – Feel The Fire

09 – Destiny

10 – Running From The Darkness

11 – Babylon (exclusive European bonus track)

Rob Rock – Vocals

Roy Z – Guitars

Ed Roth – Keyboards

Aaron Samson – Bass

Reynold “Butch” Carlson – Drums

Additional musicians:

Ray Burke, Daniel Cordova – Bass

Mark Boals – Vocals

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