Fozzy - Chasing the Grail (Riot Entertainment)

Chris Jericho is back - and this time it's serious.

Fozzy, the heavy metal vehicle for pro wrestler Chris Jericho is back, somewhat improbably, with their fourth album, the ferrously titled Chasing the Grail; wherein the band attempt to finally rid themselves of the ‘joke’ tag that’s hung around their neck from the get go. But have they succeeded?


In parts, yes. Opener Under Blackened Skies is a furious curtain raiser, as vicious a statement of intent as you’re likely to hear all year: Jericho’s Ozzy-esque howl is complemented by guitarist Rich Ward’s sludgeful riffing. But as the album wends its way through its dozen tracks, you quickly realise that the main man doesn’t quite have the vocal chops to back up his musical vision. There appears to be a lot of sonic ‘massaging’ at work in the vocal department on this album; but if you’re of a mind to accept that fact and just enjoy what’s going on, you’re in for a largely pleasurable hour or so.


This is thanks majorly to the stellar guitar input from Ward (also Jericho’s main song writing foil here). Put simply, the man hasn’t sounded this enthused since the heyday of his main band, Stuck Mojo, in the late '90s, hacking and slashing his way through a variety of styles (and if Chasing the Grail has one major sticking point it’s that the band tries to cover too much ground - and too many metallic subgenres - in such a short space of time. The Nightwish-styled epicry of New Day’s Dawn in particular sticks out like a freshly hammered sore thumb as a bad idea), whether it be the storming metal of the opener, or the catchy, succinct riffage of the excellent God Pounds His Nails, he’s on top of his game here. Indeed, if Ozzy himself had recorded this album, Ward’s contribution as songwriter/riffmeister would be hailed as a career-resurrecting man of the match performance for the Prince of Darkness – it’s that good.


It’s easy just to look at this band’s history (much of which is, it has to be said, laughable – but not in an amusing way) and dismiss them as witless jokers doing nothing but bad to the name of heavy metal, but it seems Fozzy has finally grasped the mettle and decided they can make a go of this properly. And there’s enough evidence here to suggest that album number five, if handled correctly, could be something really rather special.

 

Let’s hope it is.

 

Fozzy's Chasing the Grail is out now on Riot! Entertainment.