Jake E. Lee's new band Red Dragon Cartel got off to somewhat of a rocky start back in 2014, and though their self-titled debut got pretty favorably reviews, the ensuing tour would see vocalist changes more times than you can count, and it's been pretty quiet in the RDC camp until now. Here we have their follow-up for Frontiers Records, titled Patina, and once again Darren James Smith is back in the vocal slot, alongside bassist Anthony Esposito, and drummer Phil Varone. Those who enjoyed the bands debut will surely find plenty to sink your teeth into here, and there's even some dips back into the Badlands bag of tricks in spots for anyone who has lost touch with Jake since that bands demise.
It's that dark, bluesy styled hard rock that Lee excelled at with his former band that really stands out here on Patina, tracks like the grinding "Havana", "Crooked Man", or the atmospheric "The Luxury of Breathing" containing some terrific riffs from Jake and arrangements that come from the gut and stick with the listener. "Bitter" contains a wealth of groove to go along with some blistering guitar work, Smith's vocal perfectly setting the tone for some scorching six string pyrotechnics, and there's even some cool psychedelia thrown in on the moody "Chasing Ghosts". One of the heavier tunes on the CD is "Punchclown", again reminding of Badlands with a touch of classic Mountain (yep, some cool Leslie West inspired riffing here!), and the rumbling grooves of "My Beautiful Mess" bring to mind Grand Funk Railroad, with Smith adding some nice Beatles styled vocal harmonies for a nice touch.
Overall, Patina is a solid album from Red Dragon Cartel, and though there are a couple of tracks that come across as filler and slightly generic sounding, there's enough here to recommend for any fan of crunchy blues rock. Jake E. Lee fans will certainly be interested, and your hero does not disappoint.
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
- Crooked Man
- The Luxury Of Breathing
- Chasing Ghosts
- A Painted Heart
- Punchclown (Bonus Track)
- My Beautiful Mess
- Ink & Water