21ST CENTURY GOLIATH
BACK WITH A VENGEANCE
Released December 5, 2014 (21st Century Goliath)
01. Welcome To The Dark Side
02. Brace Yourself For Hell
03. Dirty Little Secrets
04. Cold Hearted Woman
05. Back With A Vengeance
06. You Crossed The Line
07. Got My Number
08. Detroit ’76
09. So Much To Learn
10. Children Of Fire
11. No Gold
12. End Of The Rainbow (outro)
Tony Leone – vocals
Scott Roby – guitar
Kip Wilson – guitar
Kenny Keeler – bass
Adam Ellis – drums
Willie Shane Jonston – harmonica (8)
Produced, mixed and mastered by Jamie King.
Associate producers Scott Roby and Drew Cyphers.
When Sleaze Roxx released their ‘Top 10 of 2012’ list, an album called Radio Destroyer from a North Carolina band named 21st Century Goliath came out of nowhere to reach #7. Although I liked the passion and almost reckless fury of that debut album, I found it so damn raw that after a few listens I put it aside… until this summer when I was off vacationing with my family in South Carolina. On the off-chance that I might catch 21st Century Goliath live in their own stomping grounds (which did not end up materializing) I revisited Radio Destroyer and it has been in constant rotation ever since.
As it would turn out, just as I was really getting into 21st Century Goliath, the band was about to release their sophomore effort — the aptly named Back With A Vengeance. 21st Century Goliath have definitely gone through some tough times between those two records. Back in late 2012, band leader and guitarist Scott Roby started serving what turned out to be a 16 month jail sentence for essentially self-defense in a parking lot fight. During that time, the rest of the band persevered by gigging and patiently waiting for Roby‘s return — and a revamped line-up is now ‘back with a vengeance’. This new album finds the band continuing with their raw and unbridled passion filled music but with more polish, restraint and mid-tempo rockers — while also branching out into some new territory.
I usually start by listening to a record from first song to last, but after having had the pleasure of interviewing Roby and vocalist Tony Leone a little while back, I skipped right to the title track since both musicians listed it as their favorite song off Back With A Vengeance — and I have to agree with them, as it is easily the best on the new record. Starting with a vintage AC/DC like riff, the song isn’t fancy but rocks, has a “single” feel and has been imbedded in my head ever since I first heard it. It has a classic feel whose aura reminds me of the one emanating from any song from AC/DC‘s masterpiece Back In Black as Leone sings about Roby‘s time in prison while making the lyrics translatable to other situations for listeners. The track simply reeks with attitude, defiance and the cool message of coming back from the brink — and may well be 21st Century Goliath‘s signature song for years to come. The coolest part about the track is how it speeds up to maximum fury during the guitar solo — essentially stating Roby is back — before slowing down back to its usual tempo. If every song was as good as the title track, this record would be the year’s best.
Oddly enough, Back With A Vengeance may be one of the only albums I can remember where the majority of the best songs are found deep into the record rather than at the beginning. It’s not that the first few tracks such as “Welcome To The Dark Side” and “Brace Yourself To Hell” aren’t good — because they rock — but they seem to represent a different and more modern direction for the band than the usual straight-up rock ‘n’ roll that I have gotten used to with Radio Destroyer. After the first four tracks, which includes the single “Cold Hearted Woman” (who can’t relate to that one?), Back With A Vengeance gets stronger as 21st Century Goliath concentrate for the most part on standard mid-tempo rockers. I have already raved about the title track but other favorites include “You Crossed The Line”, with the sexy female voice halfway through the song working remarkably well — perhaps due to the sharp contrast she provides compared to Leone‘s gruff manly voice, “So Much To Learn”, with its melodic guitar intro and verses, and “Detroit 76”, especially when the harmonica kicks in to give it that southern tinge.
If you’re looking for Radio Destroyer ‘Part 2’ you won’t find it with Back With A Vengeance, since 21st Century Goliath offer more mid-paced rockers this time around instead of the faster and rawer sound found on the debut. What you do get with Back With A Vengeance is a solid heavy rock ‘n’ roll album that you will likely enjoy a little more each time you listen to it. Yes 21st Century Goliath are back, back, back — yes they’re back, back, back — back with a vengeance!
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, December 2014