Archive for April 19, 2008

Wicked Stick – Ill Inspired (2007, independent release)

  1. The Message
  2. Unforgiven
  3. Darkness Of My Mind
  4. Break Free
  5. Wasted Time
  6. No Bull
  7. Upside Down
  8. Ill Inspired
  9. Meltdown

Band Lineup:
Danny Watts – Lead & Rhythm Guitars
David Elmore – Bass
Donnie Wedding – Drums
Nelson Braswell – Vocals

Producer: Tom Hummer

Total Time = 33:43

Wicked Stick official website
Wicked Stick MySpace page

Virginia’s Wicked Stick plays a hybrid of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal that has a late ’80s to mid ’90s style with a touch of Pantera and Zakk Wylde. ILL-INSPIRED is an album chock full of guitar driven songs that just slam you right in the face. Each song starts with a heavy riff, the backline keeps the song pounding, and the vocals are strong without being too screamy.

‘The Message’ sets the tone with a heavy main riff and the line: “Quit fucking with me!”. This song sounds like Guns N’ Roses mixed with Stone Temple Pilots, it’s heavy but not overbearing. ‘Unforgiven’ has the same GNR/STP feel but singer Nelson Braswell adds a little growl to his vocals. ‘Darkness Of My Mind’ starts off slow and kicks into gear but sounds very similar to latter day Saxon. Now that I think about it, I’ve been trying to figure out who Braswell reminds me of and it’s a combination of current day Biff Byford (Saxon), Sebastian Bach, and Jeff Scott Soto. Take away the higher range from all these guys and you get Braswell. The Jeff Scott Soto comparison might sound strange but if you listen to his work on the movie soundtrack for Rock Star then you’ll understand.

‘Break Free’ is more of the same in your face Metal while ‘Wasted Time’ starts off quiet and slow and has continues into a heavy mid-tempo groove with a really cool solo. ‘No Bull’ channels the Sunset Strip for an ’80s L.A. Guns sound while ‘Upside Down’ has a Megadeth influence, especially in the bass line and main guitar. It’s not Thrash, more straight up Metal but you can here that ‘Peace Sells’ influenced bass….only problem is that it’s a little to low in the mix on this song. The title track and ‘Meltdown’ are more of the same straight forward blend of Rock and Metal…..’Meltdown’ standing out a little more because the drums are a way up front in the mix and you can really hear those cymbals crash.

Bottom Line:
I have been listening to this album for a couple of months now and I still haven’t grown tired of it. It’s a heavy sounding album that is inspired from Hard Rock and Metal from around the late ’80s to the mid ’90s…..it’s straight forward, kick ass Rock. I wasn’t really expecting Wicked Stick to come out and keep the pedal down and continue with the uptempo songs, I figured they would throw in a couple of slow ones but the band kept the momentum going. After a few songs, you get the general idea that the band is going musically and things get to be a little predictable but still enjoyable. I wouldn’t mind hearing the band take a few more chances and mix things up a little by exploring that mid-tempo groove they had on ‘Wasted Time’. With the exception of some minor production issues on a couple of songs (bass too low sometimes, drums too high, guitar in and out), my only real complaint is that the album clocks in at just over half an hour! Usually an album has somewhere between 10 to 15 songs so I could have used a couple more originals but I give the band credit for putting their best original material forward. Favorite songs here: ‘Unforgiven’, ‘Wasted Time’, ‘No Bull’.