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Rock, Rob: Holy Hell

Vocalist Rob Rock has been around the metal scene for quite some time, fronting bands like MARS: Project Driver with Tommy Alldrige, Tony Macalpine, and Rudy Sarzo, as well as Impelliteri and Axel Rudi Pell. On his latest solo album Holy Hell, Rob has enlisted the help of producer Roy Z, who is best known for his work with Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford. In fact, if you like the heavy sounds on those albums, then Holy Hell will find a welcome home in your CD player. This is solid 80's inspired classic power metal, with thick guitar riffs, Rock's soaring husky vocals, plenty of pummeling and galloping rhythms, and epic arrangements. If you are a fan of classic metal, you will be instantly swept away by the crushing riffs of "Slayer of Souls", the catchy and anthemic "Calling Angels", or the speed metal riffage of the raging title track. Songs like "When Darkness Reigns " and "Lion of Judah" scream European power metal, which will instantly bring to mind bands like Edguy, Hammerfall, Stratovarius, and Gamma Ray, and in fact Edguy singer Tobias Sammet guest on the song "Move On".

Other guest on Holy Hell include drummer Booby Jarzombek, guitarists Bob Rossi, Carljohan Grimmark , Rick Renstrom, and Roy Z, keyboard player Mistheria, and bassist Andreas Olsson. Kudos to Candlelight Records for breaking away from their usual black & death metal repertoire and releasing some classy power metal for a change. They seem to be attempting to branch out a bit lately, and this solid release from Rob Rock is a step in a welcome direction.

Track Listing
1. Slayer Of Souls
2. First Winds Of The End Of Time
3. Calling Angels
4. Holy Hell
5. Lion Of Judah
6. I'm A Warrior
7. I'll Be Waiting For You
8. When Darkness Reigns
9. The Revelation
10. Move On

Added: January 23rd 2006
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Rob Rock Website
Hits: 3206
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Rock, Rob: Holy Hell
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-01-23 18:18:17
My Score:

Ever since the recording of M.A.R.S. Project Driver, Rob Rock has proven that he is one of the greatest vocal powers in Metal and Hard Rock music. I found his newest album Holy Hell to be right up my alley because with Rob being so well-versed in the genre he pretty much knows what will work and what will not. The album lyrically showcases a lot of Good Vs. Evil themes and in songs like "Slayer Of Souls" and "Calling Angels" you might find yourself thinking that this is a Christian album. A little research further found me discovering that this was not the case and instead was Rob using two powerful themes to better illustrate his point. The second that the album begins the level of production by Roy Z. (Halford, Dickinson) hits you in the face with its Metal clarity. "Calling Angels" and "Holy Hell" both have those raise your fist in the air choruses and should be excellent live performance tunes. The album is full of solid tracks such as "I'm A Warrior" for which a Z produced video also exists. If you are a fan of good Power Metal that holds a strong sense of Melody than this is for you. There is nothing crazy or confusing going on and I felt Rob and the band did a really great job on it. The tunes reference above were my favorites as well as "The Revelation" which had such a classic 80's Metal feel to it. Overall I was impressed but not too crazy about the slow "I'll Be Waiting For You", it has a nice sound but I felt Rob has better slow tunes in his mind. However, the closer of "Move On" was indeed a great way to end the record and since I always have a soft spot for the well-written Metal Power ballad I just loved this one.

The album was recorded with the help of Carljohan Grimmark (guitar), Daniel Hall (guitar), Andreas Olsson (bass), Andreas Johanssen (drums) and each performs admirably with solid chops on every tune. This album is great for those that enjoy the genre and want to hear the latest work from one of the best vocalists out there.

Rock, Rob: Holy Hell
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-11-06 12:56:13
My Score:

Rob Rock is one of the finest hard'n heavy vocalists hailing from America and everything in his discography is awesome and highly respected among heavy metal fans. From Impellitteri to MARS to his works with Axel Rudi Pell, Avantasia and Jack Frost, he has proven to be a singer very much in demand. However, it is his solo albums that allow him to showcase his talentes best, as he always works with the amazing producer Roy Z (Bruce Dickinson, Judas Priest) who never fails to bring out the best in Rob Rock and also gives the album an excellent sonic quality.

I'll always argue that Rage of Creation is Rock's best album. Maybe it's because Rage of Creation was his first album that truly differed from his neoclassical shred stuff with Impellitteri or the brief inclusion of Jake E. Lee on a couple of tracks, but I've always felt that once Rob Rock was convinced that he was on the right path, he didn't consider it necessary to experiment with different writing styles anymore. Nothing wrong with that, but in general lines, Holy Hell sounds like a more updated version of Rock's previous two discs, with impressive musicianship and solid production. Narnia members Andreas Olsson on bass and Carljohan Grimmark on lead guitar, along with extra guitar work by Roy Z, Rick Renstrom, and Bob Rossi form Rock's solid lineup. The big surprise of Holy Hell, however, is drummer Bobby Jarzombek (Watchtower, Spastic Ink, Iced Earth). I love Jarzombek's drumming in more traditional heavy metal bands such as Halford and Riot because he has a very unconventional approach to rhythm and his double bass drum work is simply awesome. His drumming in the outro of the opening song "Slayer of Souls" is fantastic and only becomes more engaging when Rob Rock adds his husky scream over it. This song is a perfect way to start a Rob Rock album with lots of heavy guitar riffs, pounding drums, and exquisite guitar leads. Jarzombek's drumming also stands out on the following track "First Winds of the End of Time" where he employs a maniacal polyrhythm complexity without taking away from the otherwise epic chunks of power metal riffs. The bass on this piece holds everything together and another killer twin guitar solo with a melodic staple concludes the track.

Perhaps due to Rock's affinity to European power metal projects such as Avantasia, there are a few tracks that reek of double bass drum madness with highly melodic choruses that are repeated over and over again till there's no way you can escape them. It's all kept within a certain level of heavy guitar work though, and that saves them from being totally derivative pieces. The title track is filled with heavy guitar and bass but it denies its Maiden and Priest roots with an infectious main chorus. Likewise, "When Darkness Reigns" is also Euro power metalish with an epic intro, sick drumming once again, and distant keyboards used to generate atmosphere. On "I'm A Warrior", Rock's singing reminds of Hammerfall, something I can't attribute to a singer of his calibre, but it's an okay song otherwise. My favourite piece would have to be the dark "Lion of Judah", punctuated by Roy Z's sweeping arrangements and precise guitar work, and Rock actually sings in a lower tone which really suits the album. Sadly, both ballads on this album fall short off the mark, as "I'll Be Waiting for You" (there is also a video of it on the CD) is way too sappy sounding. Not only does this song break the metalic flow of the album, but it also feels like it was put together rather quickly in hopes of adding a power ballad in the mix. The last piece "Move On" features Tobias Sammet singing both lead and back vocals in a somewhat folky tone over acoustic guitars and power chords. Knowing Rob Rock's earlier ballads, I know he could have done better, but Holy Hell is still a good heavy metal album with plenty of power metal elements and it will please most listeners.

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