Fozzy - Do You Want to Start a War Review
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 07.22.2014
Chris Jericho and Fozzy are back with their sixth studio album, Do You Want to Start a War! But does it continue the momentum from 2012's Sin and Bones or come up short? 411's Jeremy Thomas checks in with his full review!
1. "Do You Wanna Start a War" (3:42)
2. "Bad Tattoo" (4:02)
3. "Lights Go Out" (3:13)
4. "Died With You" (3:33)
5. "Tonight" (ft. Michael Starr) (3:33)
6. "Brides of Fire" (4:03)
7. "One Crazed Anarchist" (3:59)
8. "Unstoppable" (ft. Christie Cook) (3:51)
9. "Scarecrow" (3:38)
10. "No Good Way" (3:46)
11. "SOS" (3:17)
12. "Witchery" (4:50)
Crossing over from one aspect of fame into music isn't as easy as it seems. For every actor like Jared Leto, Drake and Zooey Deschanel who turned their music career into a success there are a mountain of celebrities who never got their music careers off the ground. Keanu Reeves, Scarlett Johansson, Russell Crowe, Scott Baio, Eddie Murphy, Brian Austin Green, Bruce Willis, William Shatner, Lindsay Lohan...the list goes on. It doesn't stop people from trying in the hopes that they can leverage their fan support into album sales and a sizable following, of course. Part of the reason that so many fail is that music is their side project, making their efforts lacking in creative juice and the proper focus. The most successful artists who cross over into music give it their all and while they may not leave their "main" career behind, when they're making music they're focused on doing so and the results show as much.
That's where Chris Jericho comes in. The WWE superstar joined Fozzy when it was a cover band known as Fozzy Osbourne, taking on the persona of Mongoose McQueen. The group sold a tongue-in-cheek backstory where Mongoose and Jericho were two different people and the band was the originator of the songs they covered, the victims of an ill-advised signing to a doomed Japanese record label. It's been a decade since they've dropped their Spinal Tap-esque gimmick, instead turning their attention to becoming a legitimate hard rock/metal act, and in the last ten years they've been building their audience and developing their sound. Building off the back of 2012's well-received Sin and Bones, the group is back with Do You Want to Start a War in the hopes of finding an ever-wider audience.
Jericho has famously referred to Fozzy's sound as what would happen if "Metallica and Journey had a bastard child," and that's perhaps one of the most apt descriptions that you could come up with. The phrase summons images of classic arena rock mixed with a classic thrash metal sound and just enough cheese to really make it fun, and that's what they deliver on Do You Want to Start A War. The album opens with its title track, a pounding number that could have easily come from the era of late 1980s hair metal but is fashioned in such a way to fit firmly into the current hard rock landscape. Guitarist Rich Ward handled the production on the album and he does some great things here; "Do You Want to Start A War" is a catchy number but it doesn't sacrifice anything in terms of heft or power. It's a mainstream sound that some metal purists may turn their noses up at, but it hooks you in and gets you ready for the rest of the album.
Lest you think the band isn't going hard enough with that first track, they definitely turn it on for "Bad Tattoo." The lyrics are a little kitschy ("I can't get rid of you/You're like a bad tattoo") but it's done in a playful way. Ward and bassist Paul Di Leo turn on the heavier riffs that just about make headbanging compulsory while Frank Fontsere guides the song along with his powerful drum work. Jericho's vocal work here is rough and raw; he shows throughout the album how much he's grown as a singer during the band's lifetime. "Lights Go Out" is up next and it's a metal-meets-dance number akin to Powerman 5000; it makes sense why it's their first single because it has the catchiness and radio-friendly profile needed for a hit. But it's also true to Fozzy's sound and doesn't sacrifice its edge, making it an early highlight.
One of the things that longtime Fozzy fans are well aware of is that, despite their beginnings as a cover band, they're far from a one-dimensional group. If "Lights Go Out" doesn't make that obvious than the next track will. "Died With You" is an alt-rock ballad of the highest measure, the kind of thing that would have been dominating charts in the post-grunge era. The band draws on several influences for their music but they're always able to make it sound current and relevant. Their skill at doing this isn't more obvious at any point on the album than it is with "Tonight," a party rock anthem that isn't afraid to let its fun flag fly. The album is laid out in such a way that just when you think it's getting too soft, they turn it back around to heavier material and "Brides of Fire" is their heaviest track with ease. It's a hard-driving, riff-laden number that includes some impressive growling from Ward amidst Jericho's heavy vocal work.
The back half of the album is, unfortunately, a bit of a mixed bag. While you have inspired songs like the hard rock cover of ABBA's "SOS" and the metallic hooks of "No Good Way" pounding things home, songs like "Unstoppable" and "Scarecrow" aren't really sure where they want to go. Fozzy can do a lot of different things, but they need a definitive direction and these two tracks lack that; it makes them suffer by comparison to the rest of the album and "Scarecrow" in particular is practically schizophrenic in its mood shifts. They're really the only two lacking tracks on the album, but the fact that they come one after the other muddles things down there.
Outside of those two missteps however, Do You Want to Start a War is great at showing just how good the band is getting. "One Crazed Anarchist" is a gritty, tough number with solid vocal contributions from Jericho and Ward and a touch of electro-distortion that rears its head a little louder in the late-stage breakdown. It's a remarkably complex song musically and in terms of production value and helps the LP prove that Fozzy has managed to sneak up on the hard rock genre and turn into one of the more enjoyable acts working in it today.
Standout Tracks: "Bad Tattoo," "Lights Go Out," "Died With You," "One Crazed Anarchist," "Brides of Fire"
Skippable: "Unstoppable," "Scarecrow"
The 411: Fozzy have once again upped their game and fans of hard rock will reap the rewards, as Do You Want to Start a War is a damned good album. With versatile influences coming out to shine, Fozzy are able to keep things fun without sacrificing their integrity as a metal act. Do You Want to Start a War may or may not be the album that finally pushes them to mainstream levels of success, but it certainly represents a creative success for them as a group.