|Musical Style: Melodic Metal/Hard Rock||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Retroactive||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2010||Artist Website: Liberty N' Justice|
|Tracks: 14||Rating: 90%|
Liberty N’ Justice has gained notoriety for the all-star projects it has released in recent years. The first, Welcome To The Revolution from 2005, delivered its share of variety – ranging from hard rock to acoustic rock to modern/alternative – while the 2006 follow up effort Soundtrack Of A Soul reflected an eighties metal and hard rock influence. Releasing the acoustic rock of Independence Day in 2007, LNJ put out a compilation, 4 All: The Best Of LNJ, the next year made up of material from all three all-star projects in addition to several new tracks.
Now, what I mean by “all-star project” is that LNJ founding member Justin Murr follows a tried and true method of bringing in numerous talented vocalists and musicians – some of the best in the business both past and present – in order to complete the songwriting and recording process. The same pattern was followed on Light It Up, the fifth all-star release from LNJ – scheduled to come out in early 2010 - and first on Retroactive Records.
Returning to the fold are veterans from past LNJ albums, including vocalists Kelly Keeling (Baton Rouge/TSO), Pete Loran (Trixter), Ted Poley (Danger Danger), Dale Thompson (Bride), Harry Hess (Harem Scarem) and Shawn Pelata (Line Of Fire) and guitarist Troy Thompson (Bride).
LNJ newcomers include Les Carlson (Bloodgood), Phil Lewis (LA Guns), Lynn Louise Lowrey (Vixen/Testify), Robert Mason (Warrant/Lynch Mob), Chris Jericho (Fozzy), CJ Snare (Firehouse) and Marq Torien (Bullet Boys) on vocals while Bill Leverty (Firehouse), Oz Fox (Stryper), Ron “Bumbelfoot” Thal (GNR), Phil Collen (Def Leppard), Pete Lesperance (Harem Scarem), Vic Rivera (Crunch) and Chris Holmes (W.A.S.P.) lend their abilities on guitar.
One cannot help but be impressed with such a line up, a particular which helps make Light It Up the best LNJ all-star project to date.
Another is songwriting. Musically, Light It Up proves a “throwback to the eighties” in that, similar to Soundtrack Of A Soul, it brings a joining of melodic metal, hair metal, hard rock, melodic rock and AOR certain to appeal to fans of any of the bands the previously referenced guest musicians are a part of.
Specifically, we are treated to a tasteful variety of up-tempo tracks – including the catchy as it gets “Light It Up”, patriotic hard rock of “Uncle Sam” and hook laden “Drunk Dead Gorgeous” – and those heading in a mid-paced direction (the smooth sounding “Blink”, acoustic laced “Do What You Believe” and classy “Man vs. Mother Nature” come to mind). You will also find an aggressive metal piece (“The Other Thief”) in addition to a groove based hard rocker (“Treading On Serpents”). Maintaining the albums quality is a very well done ballad, “Better Or For Worse”, and an acoustic rock number, “Every Reason To Believe”.
Production values are up to the same high standards of past LNJ projects.
The albums title track finds Phil Lewis (LA Guns) in top form with his raspy flavorings. An upbeat hard rocker, “Light It Up” brings a radio friendly feel – the chorus hook here is huge – and joins it with some interesting tempo changes and sass and snarl in the needed amounts.
Aggressive would be the best way to describe “The Other Thief”, a scorcher allowing Dale (vocals) and Troy (guitars) Thompson of Bride to shine. Dale’s gritty vocals, of course, add to the caustic scene while Troy is all over the place with his blues laden riffs and chops. Put this on Tsar Bomba (Bride’s latest) and it would sound right at home.
Evening things out is the melodic hard rock of “Blink”. Featuring the smoother flavorings of Lynn Louise Lowrey (Vixen, Testify), “Blink” highlights a plethora of polished backing vocals in its catchy chorus and commercial proclivity that will have you singing along in no time.
Maintaining the mid-paced leanings is “Do What You Believe”. The gravelly touch of CJ Snare (Firehouse) stands out on this one, bringing out the best in its acoustic laced verses and refined chorus in which a crisp rhythm guitar steps forward. Nice guitar solo from band mate Bill Leverty.
Another classy track is “Man vs. Mother Nature”. With Ted Poley (Danger Danger) delivering some complementary low key muscle, the song gives prominence to a big sing-along chorus and plenty of terrific lead work from Vic Rivera (Crunch). The only complaint is the female voice over introduction, which can come across a bit corny.
“Treading On Serpents” proves Les Carlson (Bloodgood) has not lost his prowess, lending his raspy but high end delivery to what can best be described an up-tempo piece exuding a ton of groove and demeanor of a near stately capacity. Oz Fox (Stryper, Bloodgood) cuts loose with some guitar work sounding as if it were taken directly from Against The Law.
“Uncle Sam” rates with the albums best. The song brings metal laced guitars in abundance and melds them with a gripping chorus and emotional proclivity in line with the patriotic lyrics themes. Sheldon Tarsha (Tarsha/Adler’s Appetite) – the best vocalist you more than likely never heard of – rounds things out with his raw edged vocal style.
“Every Reason To Believe”, with its acoustic based sound, hearkens back to the 2007 LNJ effort Independence Day. A very pleasing melody is delivered while the gravel-like delivery of Kelly Keeling (Baton Rouge) adds the perfect touch.
A fast paced rocker with an energetic flair, “Wresting With God” delivers a plethora of non-stop hooks and performance from Peter Loran (Trixter) mixing equal amounts of grit and the smooth sounding. The guitar work of Steve Brown (also Trixter) and Ron “Bumblefoot” Tal (GNR) is spot on.
On “Best Time You Never Had” Chris Jericho (Fozzy) proves he can not only wrestle but sing as well, his deep and low-key style aligning itself with the rumbling music at hand. Phil Collen (Def Leppard) joins occasional acoustic traces with muscle-like riffs to create one of the albums heavier listening experiences.
Fans of Harem Scarem will delight in “Beautiful Decision”, an upbeat hard rocker in which Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance appear. Hess, with his rich and warm flavorings, and Lesperance, adding a tasteful stretch of lead guitar, accent the spirited environs.
Marq Torien (Bullet Boys) lends his gravel soaked voice to “Drunk Dead Gorgeous”. The song rollicks its distance in hook driven fashion, delivering an anti-drunk driving message while allowing Chris Holmes (W.A.S.P.) to let loose with his edgy riffs and blazing lead guitar.
“Greed”, with its huge background vocal driven chorus, sounds as if it were taken directly out of the eighties. Vocalist Robert Mason and bassist Jerry Dixon (both Warrant), of course, deserve credit with their scratchy sensibilities and punchy bass lines respectively.
Closing things out is the albums lone ballad, “For Better Or For Worse”. Underlined by a piano but mixing in traces of rhythm guitar, the song is put over the top by the soaring vocal melodies of Shawn Pelata (Line Of Fire) and commercial appeal that will draw you in on first listen.
Again, the strength to Light It Up resides in its guest appearances and quality songwriting. Each of the albums fourteen tracks stand on their own – there is no “filler” here – while bringing enough variety to separate themselves from their neighbors. If you are a fan of eighties melodic metal and hard rock then by all means give Light It Up a chance. You will not be disappointed.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Light It Up” (4:33), “The Other Thief” (3:47), “Blink” (3:43), “Do What You Believe” (4:02), “Man vs. Mother Nature” (3:40), “Treading On Serpents” (4:10), “Uncle Sam” (4:59), “Every Reason To Believe” (4:05), “Wrestling With God” (4:09), “Best Time You” Never Had” (4:56), “Beautiful Decision” (3:26), “Drunk Dead Gorgeous” (3:03), “Greed” (3:36), “For Better Or Worse” (4:48)