RED DRAGON CARTEL – Patina [Japan Edition +1] (2018)
RED DRAGON CARTEL, the band led by former Ozzy Osbourne / Badlands guitarist Jake E. Lee will release its sophomore album “Patina“, on November 9 via Frontiers Music. Tomorrow is the release date for this Japanese edition, including a bonus track.
The follow-up to Red Dragon Cartel’s eponymous 2014 debut, “Patina” marks the group’s first release with drummer Phil Varone (ex- Saigon Kick, Skid Row) and bassist Anthony Esposito (Lynch Mob). The band’s current lineup is rounded out by singer Darren James Smith (ex- Harem Scarem).
With new music being released every week it’s very easy to take things for granted and be somewhat spoilt for choice. But 3 or 4 times a year a release is announced that gets the excitement levels racing one such band for me is the rather splendid Red Dragon Cartelwith the guitar maestro Jake E Lee formerly of Ozzy Osbourne Band and the underrated outfit that should have been huge; Badlands.
Red Dragon Cartel is really is a powerhouse of a band, and it shows in “Patina”.
The album starts off with the aptly named “Speedbag” with a chugging riff and solid drums and in hindsight is a strange song to put up first on the album as it has a stop-start feel to it. It’s quite original, and in many ways bring to mind the recent Ultraphonic debut.
Follow up “Havana” has more of a commercial delivery with the vocals being worthy of special mention, before we are introduced for the first time proper to the gifted talents of Jake E Lee. Darn, the man play some awesome solos to boot.
“Crooked Man” starts with a drum fill akin the Eighties, however this is a very modern sounding song with a very modern production. It’s a crazy number in its arrangements, not your regular hard rocker but that’s part of the delight of the track, with an effective catchy chorus and and beefy bass line.
“The Luxury Of Breathing” has to be the grimiest oil soaked song that I have heard in a very long while with Lee’s guitar so down tuned it rumbles like a pre-volcanic explosion. Nice harmonica accompanies the track as it moves along mid-paced then a stunning short blues solo is steam rolled into place by a solo that shreds the song over the finish line.
I found “Bitter” quite reminiscent of Badlands, a classic rocker with an stupendous Lee work both in rhythm and lead guitar.
“Chasing Ghosts” with its steady opening bass line has a psychedelic feel, and with vocals that have been deliberately distorted works remarkably well, with Varone being given free reign to smash the hell out of his drum kit.
One thing that grabs my attention with all the tracks on this release is the amount of detail that goes into all the songs with so much in the background to keep the listener entertained.
“My Beautiful Mess” with its different rhythm and background tambourine is very interesting as it has parts fusion / part blues all within its 5 and a half minutes running time. Never gaining a great deal of pace this track is so weird yet so wonderful and like the whole album so unpredictable.
“Ink and Water” rounds the album off and is easily the catchiest hard rocker here, it mix late Seventies magic with modern hard rock, more classic rock I’d said in a Black Country Communion vein.
Japanese edition bonus track is a re-work of Havana, re-titled “Havana B.C.”, with the addition of acoustic guitars, cellos, and percussion. It’s not titled ‘acoustic version’, because there’s some slightly different arrangements. It’s a great version, and a showcase of Red Dragon’s Cartel versatility.
If bluesy hard rock is your cup of tea then look no further than this fantastic sounding full throttle classic rockin’ album titled “Patina”.
However, and here’s the plus, Red Dragon Cartel is not your regular band in this genre. Jake and the guys always try something different, and you don’t know what to expect in the next song. Of course the entertaining factor is intact; the catchy riffs and melodic vocals are all over the LP.
I am really happy to hear Jake E. Lee making such original rock music 2018, also seeing legendary producer Max Norman behind the desk again providing a superb mix with an eye put in the late ’80s yet perfectly updated and modern.
01 – Speedbag
02 – Havana
03 – Crooked Man
04 – The Luxury Of Breathing
05 – Bitter
06 – Chasing Ghosts
07 – A Painted Heart
08 – Punchclown [Bonus Track]
09 – My Beautiful Mess
10 – Ink & Water
11 – Havana B.C. [Japan Bonus Track]
Guitar: Jake E Lee (Ozzy Osbourne, Badlands)
Bass: Anthony Esposito (ex- Lynch Mob)
Drums: Phil Varone (ex- Saigon Kick, Skid Row)
Vocals: Darren James Smith (ex- Harem Scarem)