Rating: 7.5 of 10
When I first listened to Red Dragon Cartel’s latest album Patina I literally felt a certain amount of disappointment. In some ways I think my ears were somewhat deceiving me. I wasn’t hearing the album possibly the way it was intended. In all honesty, I was stressed to the point that my thinking was, “How do I ever review this album without being negative?” Now this was my thinking a month ago when I first initially received an advance copy of the album. It was almost like when they say if you have negative thoughts towards someone write it in an email and don’t send it. Sit on it for while, come back to it and then make the decision on what to do. So that is what I did and I am sure glad I did because as I write today I am feeling much more confident in my review.
As I was about to write my review , I turned it on and somehow my thinking changed. I think I was looking at it from the perspective of it being an Ozzy album or a Badlands release. Possibly I had formed a negative opinion right from the get go, so I wasn’t really giving it the chance it truly deserved. Back in the 80’s Jake E. Lee was one of my favorite guitar players. There was nothing he did that I disliked. Jake to me was different. He had that cool sensibility to his playing. There was always something new that he did that blew my socks off. On this I was expecting that old Jake. That was not to be.
So as I actually dove into the album, I quickly found myself seeing it in a positive light. I was quickly taken by the intensity of the opening track “Speedbag”. As I listened I thought to myself maybe a month ago I was expecting a heavier guitar track. This is Jake E. Lee in 2018. I began to have an open mind. As I moved along to the next track and first single “Havana” I felt myself feeling the groove of what was being conveyed. What really hit my between the eyes was the vocal delivery of Darren James Smith. At first I wasn’t feeling his vocal delivery and phrasings, but as I listen today I am truly impressed by his sheer talent and attack. As I kept listening it became apparent that there was a lot of depth within the musicianship. As this was a download, I was curious to hear the vinyl version of this album. I think when the needle hits the groove there will be a more distinct direction. The musical tracks and vocal harmonies will separate much better. I will also make note that the rhythm section of bassist Anthony Esposito and drummer Phil Varone really create a tight groove in the background. It carries Jake E. Lee to new levels within his playing. There are points within the album where I make reference to certain aspects of legends such as Black Sabbath and Stone Temple Pilots. It has a mixture of many eclectic styles of the last 40 years in heavy rock.
In closing all I can say about Patina is if you’re expecting Ozzy or Badlands, this is not to be. This stands on it’s own as the latest version of Jake E. Lee. An extension of his former self. A more honest attempt of where he is in 2018. I think that’s a good thing. If you’re looking for something different from Lee, then you will find it here.
Stand out Tracks: “Speedbag”, “Havana” and “Bitter”
Article by Tyson Briden