Fans of 80’s metal and guitar heroes will no doubt remember John Sykes as the guitarist for such legendary bands as Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy, and Blue Murder. However, most are probably not aware that Sykes has been releasing a string on highly successful albums in Europe and Japan that his kept his career moving along quite nicely. Nuclear Cowboy is his latest release, and contains some very modern sounding metal, a few commercial tunes, and some white hot, heavy guitar playing.
Perhaps the most signature sound that Sykes is famous for is his use of pick and muted slides up the neck of the guitar. Many of the songs here open up with some monstrous riffs utilizing this technique, including the scorching “We Will” and the brutally heavy title track. Guitar solos are kept short, but still there are plenty of them. When Sykes lays down some noise, expect harmonic squeals, neck bends, and wah-wah screams, all heard here in abundance. The man even shows how well his vocals have improved over the years, as evident on the catchy “Arc Angel” and the ballsy “Nothing Means Nothing.” The requisite heavy ballad is represented with “I Wish it Would Rain”, a great melodic tune that harkens back to his Blue Murder days. The CD ends with the chunky “Raising the Devil”, a modern rocker with a great guitar riff. Not to ignore the fine supporting cast of musicians, which includes Carmen Appice and Marco Mendoza, who complement the guitarist admirably. It is however Sykes’ show, and he delivers a fine album of hard rock and metal that will remind all of just how good an all-around musician he is.