For such a talented vocalist, Tim "Ripper" Owens has had some good breaks and some bad breaks; the good being his joining Judas Priest & Iced Earth, the bad unfortunately being relieved of his position from both bands, albeit unfairly in one instance.
While balancing his position in Yngwie Malmsteen's band, the supergroup Hail! and his own band, Beyond Fear, Tim has found the time to record & release his first proper solo album Play My Game.
The opener, Starting Over, sets the tone as Tim announces this is a fresh start. And if you read between the lines, it could be percieved as a subtle shot at Iced Earth mainman Jon Schaffer personally, but it still is a hard rocking track.
Play My Game for the most part sticks to a hard rock/metal theme reminiscent musically of Black Label Society - definitely in tracks like No Good Goodbyes, The Light, the dark The World Is Blind and the title track Play My Game.
This release does deviate from the norm with tracks such as the power metal inspired Death Race, the power ballad-like To Live Again, the anthemic motivational like rocker Pick Yourself Up and the Judas Priest like Believe. Some of the tracks do have a bit of a slapped-together-quickly vibe, but that does not mean they are bad songs at all, they work well within the album as a whole.
From a performance stand point, Tim's vocals are top notch. He goes from his higher range, which he crafted with his previous bands, all the way to his darker rougher side with perfect ease. Tim composed a good percentage of the material with his Beyond Fear bandmate & guitarist John Comprix and legendary producer Bob Kulick.
Tim also enlisted some help from a myriad of his friends within the musical community such as Nevermore's Jeff Loomis who lays down a blistering solo, as he always does, onThe Cover Up; Queensryche guitarist Michael Wilton, Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldrich, Billy Idol guitarist Steve Stevens, former Kiss guitarist Bruce Kulick, and legendary bassist Billy Sheehan, who dominates the bass in his unique way in The World Is Blind. Guests also include former Megadeth bassist David Ellefson, Korn drummer Ray Luzier and many others.
Play My Game is a solid effort overall. The music department is in good hands with the enlistment of some excellent musicians within the metal field. Y you can tell Tim really put his heart and soul in crafting his first solo statement: it has its hits and misses, but still has enough good music to keep the listener entertained. If you are a fan of Tim's work, it is definitely worth a listen, and possibly a purchase. For the casual fans, the guest musicians would be a good enough selling point to create some interest.
Tim "Ripper" Owens' Play My Game is out now on SPV/Riot.