OZ KNOZZ – True Believer (2012)
There’s few bands in the rock scene that has been active for more than forty years. One of them is Houston based OZZ KNOZZ, which came together around a core of Westbury High alumni — Duane Massey, his brother Bill and Marty Naul.
The group has survived periods of inactivity, innumerable lineup changes (even the band doesn’t know how many) and shows with up to 25 people onstage at once to arrive at new album “True Believer”.
Their first recording came out in the mid seventies, and plenty of touring followed. It wasn’t until 2008 that the follow-up emerged, and that makes new album “True Believer” only the 3rd album in 42 years.
The Oz Knozz sound definitely nods to the past. The production is mostly modern, but the vibe is firmly rooted in the ’70s and ’80s keyboard-driven pomp and arena rock with some slightly proggy moments here and there.
The promotional information that accompanies the CD describes the album as more progressive than before, but in my opinion the grandiose closing track “Kings And Treasures” is the only true Prog piece contained within.
I wouldn’t say that the majority of this album was anything more than the Pomp previously mentioned, but with a healthy dose of good ol’ Rock ‘n’ Roll at its heart.
The glorious “Goodbye Again” is reminiscent of prime time Styx, the awesome mega pompy Kansas-like “Far Away” and the catchy, weirdly contagious title track “True Believer”, all have that classic elements we love, both in sound and instrumentation.
In amongst all the Pomp and circumstance there are some wonderful moments that lean towards a more commercial U.S. ’80s / ’70s Rock sound.
The sublime opener “Empty Room” is a moody, rocking melodic gem that is straight out of the Foreigner book of hits, the semi-ballad “Always There” hints at a little of Journey’s ‘Who’s Crying Now’, and “Here Comes The Night” reminds me of early Reo Speedwagon, and even has some vintage Whitesnake in the guitar parts (see if you can spot it!).
“What The…?” is a rocking blues number replete with an almighty extended guitar solo from the talented Robert Guinea, and has it’s tongue planted firmly in its cheek.
“Visitor” leans to Classic Rock territory, driven by a dry riff and a persistent cowbel percussion, including a hot guitar solo.
Really interesting is the uncommon six and a half minute track “Fox Paws”, which bursts forth with a chugging riff, and has a quite wonderful long instrumental section, with keyboards, guitars and trumpet (yes you read well, trumpet, and works wonderfully) all getting their chance in the spotlight.
“True Believer” offers a lovable collection of ’70s and ’80s keyboard-driven Pomp and arena rock songs with some slightly proggy moments.
As fan of those genres, I really enjoyed this album from start to finish, arranged, played and delivered in the way that none do these days. It has the modern production standards, but with the magical essence of the glorious era.
Milton De Coronado has an immensely powerful voice, the rhythm section of bassist Bill Massey and drummer Marty Naul is as tight as they come, and Robert Guinea’s riffs are solid as his soloing.
The keyboards of songwriter Duane Massey are fantastic, mixing an arsenal of Moogs, Hammonds, Prophet synths, Wurlitzer electric pianos all over the place without swamping it. And as good as the musicians are, they’re nothing without the songs, and here you have the perfect combination.
“True Believer” is an awesome retro-biased album that should bring a big smile to anyone with an ear (and his heart) to the ’70s and ’80s good, classic Pomp.
You’ve seen it first here, at zerodayrockz
01 – Empty Room
02 – Goodbye Again
03 – Far Away
04 – Fox Paws
05 – Always There
06 – Here Come The Night
07 – Visitor
08 – What The…
09 – True Believer
10 – Kings And Treasures
Milton Coronado: Lead Vocals, Keyboards
Duane Massey: Keyboards, Backing Vocals, Winds
Robert Guinea: Guitars
Bill Massey: Bass, Sax
Marty Naul: Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
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