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Nazareth: Tattooed On My Brain

This one is a tough one a longtime fan of legendary Scottish heavy rock act Nazareth, when it was announced a few years ago that founding vocalist Dan McCafferty was retiring from the band, myself, and many others I'm sure, figured it was time for this iconic band to finally call it a day. Well, it didn't quite turn out that way, as the sole founding member, bassist Pete Agnew, decided to keep the train rolling, along with veteran guitarist Jimmy Murrison (who has been in the band since 1994), drummer Lee Agnew (Pete's son), and new vocalist Carl Sentence, who replaced McCafferty's original replacement, Linton Osborne, in 2015. Sentence has also spent time in both Tokyo Blade and Krokus, so he's not entirely an unknown. Now, for the first time ever, is a new Nazareth album without Dan on lead vocals, and it's titled Tattooed On My Brain on Frontiers Records. While it's a solid enough album, without the gravelly roar of McCafferty, it's a little tough judging this as a Nazareth.

So, let's try and look past the fact that this is a Nazareth album and judge the songs on their own merits. Opening cut "Never Dance With the Devil" is a fiery, groove laden hard rocker with some heavy riffs from Murrison and Sentence's potent lead vocal. He is quite different from McCafferty, more of a metal styled wailer, but he's off to a great start here on this first track. Next up is the title track, which is an odd, uptempo jump into quirky punk/new wave, strange as it is and even stranger as a Nazareth song. Not sure what they were thinking here. "State of Emergency" brings to mind Guns N Roses, from Carl's vocals all the way to the chorus and guitar work, a decent enough hard rocker but something just seems a bit off. "Rubik’s Romance" is a bluesy, rootsy ballad featuring a solid vocal from Sentence, but the song comes across as a mediocre, jangly blues/country rocker. "Pole to Pole" is a generic rocker, and "Push" is pure blues, complete with sleazy slide guitar and whisky soaked vocals...good, but nothing spectacular. "The Secret is Out" follows a similar blues-rock vein, and is actually more successful thanks to some beefy riffs and pounding rhythms from the father & son team. More slide guitar appears on the bluesy stomp of "Don't Throw Your Love Away", with Sentence shrieking to the heavens, but the album hits its absolute peak with "Crazy Molly", Nazareth channeling both Lynyrd Skynyrd & Deep Purple on this churning heavy rock track, easily Tattooed On My Brain's "Miss Misery". "Silent Symphony" also dials up the crunchy riffs for a potent 1-2 punch with its predecessor, Murrison's guitar licks lethal and Sentence adding in the right amount of swagger, but the energy level changes a bit for the Rolling Stones-ish "What Goes Around", a solid rocker that dials back the metal but cranks up the classic rock vibe. Good track, and makes for a very solid trio of songs near the back end of the album. "Change" mixes rootsy acoustic guitars with booming riffs, and though the chorus is somewhat silly, it's an intriguing track that grows on you. For the finale, things go out with a whimper on "You Call Me", a slice of moody blues that goes nowhere but does feature a solid vocal and a tasty guitar solo.

In the end, Tattooed On My Brain is a very uneven album, but it does have some pretty solid songs. As a Nazareth album, you have to chalk this up as being somewhat of a disappointment- even if you get past the fact that the vocals are completely different, it just doesn't 'feel' like a Nazareth album, musically speaking, other than some fleeting moments. Honestly, it pales in comparison to 2011's Big Dogz and 2015's Rock n Roll Telephone, the last two with McCafferty. That being said, five really strong songs, a couple fairly decent ones, and a few stinkers...the jury is still out on how long these guys will continue on as Nazareth, but hey, Molly Hatchet has been doing it for decades, so why not Nazareth?

Track Listing

  1. Never Dance With The Devil
  2. Tattooed On My Brain
  3. State Of Emergency
  4. Rubik’s Romance
  5. Pole To Pole
  6. Push
  7. The Secret Is Out
  8. Don’t Throw Your Love Away
  9. Crazy Molly
  10. Silent Symphony
  11. What Goes Around
  12. Change
  13. You Call Me

Added: October 16th 2018
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 842
Language: english

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