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EZoo: Feeding The Beast

Slowly but surely Italian guitarist Dario Mollo is working his way through the classic rock acts of the 70s and 80s. Although he first entered the scene through his own band, Crossbones, in the late 80s, it would be his 1999 collaboration with ex-Black Sabbath frontman Tony Martin in The Cage that would truly bring Mollo to prominence. Two years later Voodoo Hill would be his chosen beast, ex-Deep Purple (and Sabbath) singer and bassist Glenn Hughes now his vocal partner, the pair's self titled debut considered a highlight in not just Mollo's canon, but also Hughes'. Another album with both outfits would appear before Mollo went quiet. However a third The Cage outing hit the shelves in 2012, followed by a third from Voodoo Hill in 2015 and then an unexpected comeback from Crossbones a year later.

In between times Mollo joined forces with one time Rainbow, Michael Schenker and Alcatrazz frontman Graham Bonnet for some 2001 live shows and then a set of brief recording sessions, under the name Electric Zoo, in 2004. With both men always busy, the recordings lain forgotten, until Bonnet, looking back over his career for a recent anthology, gave them another listen and, believing them to be too good to waste, contacted Mollo about completing them. Now under the name EZoo, Feeding The Beast is the result, an album mixing some of those original sessions with a clutch of new recordings and a couple of Rainbow covers. Mighty fine it is too, Mollo a long underrated guitarist who lands somewhere between Blackmore and Eddie Van Halen (and when the mood takes him, Iommi) in terms of diverse style, whereas Bonnet… well I couldn't say he's never sounded better, but considering some of these vocals come from a man about to turn 70, they are reasonably astounding.

Opener "You Are Your Wallet" sets the album's stall out perfectly, Mollo's riff biting and twisting as Bonnet uses a grittier, more forceful attack than you might expect (think his Blackthorne approach, but more tuneful). In truth it's actually the weakest performance he gives across the album, his more controlled delivery on "C'est La Vie" nearer to what he's famed for. In between times the guitar instrumental "The Flight Of The Sapini" allows Mollo to channel his inner Van Halen, while the sprightly commercial rock of "Guys From God" is the type of darting, dancing fare Bonnet's voice was made for.

From there a mix of full on rockers and less high octane commercial rock bites deep, the eleven minute "Feeding The Beast" an enigmatic, almost prog meets early Rainbow highlight, while "Colder Than Cool" is a ballsy sing along and no mistake. Things stall ever so slightly on the claustrophobic "Too High To Be Falling", but with "Motorbike" careening from riff laden monster to catchy chorus containing cracker and "Don't Look Back" again ladling on the brooding atmosphere, not only does Feeding The Beast find its main protagonists in fine form, it does so in a variety of ways.

Which brings us to the two Rainbow covers, "Eyes Of The World" and "Since You Been Gone", both of which find Mollo revelling in Ritchie-dome. In fairness he also brings his own take on proceedings and he's not afraid to step quite far from the script at times. Unfortunately, while Bonnet does the job you'd expect from the man who originally sang these numbers, what these two cuts illustrate is how markedly the singer's voice has, understandably, aged. Add in the catch 22 of why do a cover if you don't change it – and then, when you do change it, all the little idiosyncrasies that people have listened out for all those years are suddenly gone – and while both are good versions of great songs, I can't help but feel that Feeding The Beast is both long enough and good enough without them. Still, if I'd never heard the originals before, I'd think these two were great… so who's wrong?

That quandary aside, Feeding The Beast is a fine example of one of the best voices rock has known singing a selection of songs perfect for his talents. Add in a stunning display from a vastly underrated guitarist and there's little doubt that EZoo come highly recommended.

Track Listing
1. You Are Your Money
2. The Flight Of The Sapini
3. C'est La Vie
4. Guys From God
5. Feeding The Beast
6. Eyes Of The World
7. Colder Than Cool
8. Too High To Be Falling
9. Motorbike
10. Since You Been Gone
11. Don't Look Back
12. Coda

Added: June 4th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Graham Bonnett facebook
Hits: 2647
Language: english

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