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Smith; Neal: KillSmith And The Greenfire Empire

If you know your 70s Rock, then you'll doubtless know that Neal Smith was the drummer in Alice Cooper back when that name meant more than just one man. What you might not know is that KillSmith And The Greenfire Empire is the third release in Smith's KillSmith trilogy; it's also the first fully conceptual album the drummer has been involved with since those Cooper classic days.

More than a drummer here, Smith also sings and plays rhythm guitar and he believes that ...The Greenfire Empire may well be "...the last Rock Opera destined to become a movie". We'll wish him well with that and there have been worse storylines than a youngster raised in a jungle discovers a drug so powerful (Greenfire) that when he unleashes it on the masses, addiction and destruction is inevitable. KillSmith (our hero) is so enraged, that he releases his fury in attempt to right the wrongs. It's a well executed concept and a perfect one for the eclectic, yet straight ahead 70s Rock it's told through, Smith laying down thunka-thunka-thunka beats from which everything else thrives. However where things really stand out is in the arrangements, little nuances peppered at regular intervals to ensure the ear is continually hooked. Smith himself isn't a great singer and yet, there's no denying that his throaty, gravely tones (think Joey Ramone eating a bag of grit) work well here although those looking for a singer of pure voice will, it has to be said, struggle somewhat. I have to admit that even though I, at first, turned my nose up at Smith's vocal efforts, as I've spent time with this album I can't pretend that I don't actually find his delivery on "I Want Money", "Palacio De Esmeraldas" and "Screaming Bloody Murder" to be amongst the high points of the whole album.

All three tracks are also great examples of what makes this an engaging listen, "...Money", which is embellished by the excellent vocals of guest Lady Elizabeth Dellinger, a thumping anthem that sticks in the mind, "Palacio..." a crawling, Latin infused shout along which illustrates why simple songs stay long in the mind, while "Screaming Bloody Murder" is a keen collision of US Punk and Alice Cooper sleaze. It may all sound like "expected stuff", but adding more than a little diversity comes the almost Flamenco-like "The KillSmith Overture", while "Pandemonium" lives up to its name by being some sort of mad tribal car chase with a demonized monster narrating the lyrics.

Whether KillSmith And The Greenfire Empire lives up to promises Smith has made regarding its potential future, is up for debate, but what isn't is the ambition and execution shows on the album itself. If theatric 70s Rock with a Punky edge sounds like it might be of interest, then I'd strongly suggest you try out some Greenfire but be careful, it's addictive!

Track Listing
1. Blessings And Curses
2. Good Morning Blue Soul Land
3. Screaming Bloody Murder
4. The KillSmith Overture
5. Palacio de Esmeraldas
6. Greenfire Born Of Poison
7. I Want Money
8. Pandemonium
9. I Remember Blue Soul Land
10. Death To The King
11. Noelle No Wonder

Added: December 13th 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Neal Smith online
Hits: 1452
Language: english

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