The Rods – “Brotherhood Of Metal” (Steamhammer / SPV)
Like gangsters returning from the joint to street, The Rods are back. Quite possibly one of the most fearsome US hard rock bands of the early 80s along with Y&T, these New Yorkers smashed their way into the metal world with albums like “Wild Dogs”, “In The Raw” and “Let Them Eat Metal”. Formed by guitarist / vocalist David ‘Rock’ Feinstein, who is Ronnie James Dio’s cousin and played in his band Elf, The Rods were an altogether different animal, nay beast, especially when the heavy duty drums of Carl Canedy began smoking! With bassist Garry Bordonaro completing the power trio, it wasn’t long before the band broke out of the US to make their name in Europe, including playing the Reading Festival. However, 6 years and 5 albums later, The Rods decided to go separate ways in 1986 and disappeared from the scene for more than 20 years, only to rise again like a phoenix from the ashes in 2011 with their outstanding comeback album “Vengeance”. Now comes the follow up in “Brotherhood Of Metal”, and man, it doesn’t mess around whatsoever – this is still a mean, rocking machine! Not retro and certainly not hip, The Rods have returned with an atom smasher that brings back that mean hard rock to give any metal band a run for its money. From Feinstein’s thick charged guitar and steaming rock n roll solos to Canedy’s pounding drums, with Bordonaro’s ballsy bass adding his own slick fretboard runs here n there, the 11 tracks kick and rock just like those early albums did to give The Rods their well deserved cult status. Along with a slick production courtesy of Canedy, whose career in that field has seen him master around 40 other releases, “Brotherhood Of Metal” doesn’t just hit true for old fans like me, but is a highly enticing proposition for anyone new to the band. The maturity of these veteran rockers has seen them lose the sleaze from their early days to instead now bring in epic aspects like on the 7 minute opening title track ‘Brotherhood Of Metal’, clearly aimed at metal camaraderie, and not a million miles from the anthemic singalongs of Manowar, who also come from the same neck of upstate New York woods. What’s also interesting is the addition of keyboards – yes keyboards – whether its on the screaming for vengeance Priest metal of ‘Tonight We Ride’, where it adds subtle backing body to Feinstein’s prominent guitar or even more impressively on ‘Smoke On The Horizon’, offering a nice Hammond edge to this 70s rocker in the Purple / Dio vein – but supercharged by The Rods! Going for the home run though was ‘1982’ and not just cos it was the heaviest track with its dirty chugging riffs, crunching bass and of course, Canedy’s pistoning double bass drums but owing to its nostalgic touch for me through its moving lyrics – definitely one for those of us who lived through those times. The Rods may no longer be playing those dive bars, but these cats still mean bad business!!!