Released on April 3, 2021 (BlackØwl)
Every year since seemingly 2018, Sleaze Roxx reader Roger Miranda (also known as Jherson Roger Miranda) makes one or more recommendations to Sleaze Roxx, which end up on Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of the Year. It started with Miranda‘s recommendation to check out French rockers and Airbourne sounding Overdrivers, whose second album She’s On Her Period (and first to be checked out by Sleaze Roxx) finished at an impressive #3 on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2018. Overdrivers have since released a very good three-song EP Rock Out! that I highly recommend checking out. The next year, Miranda recommended Finnish rockers Prospect‘s debut album Rock ‘N’ Roll Beats And Electric Guitars, which finished at #6 on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2019. Miranda made further recommendations for 2020 that I am going to have to revisit. I can’t remember if I really gave his 2020 recommendations a fair chance although I know that I didn’t really like Cristiano Filippina’s Flames of Heaven.
For the fourth year in a row, Miranda has made a couple of recommendations with his last recommendation in 2021 with the words “Album of The Year.” Before even completing my first listen of BlackØwl‘s two video singles “Smoking Rock ‘N’ Roll” and “Napoli Street”, I had already ordered their debut full-length album Fly Away. Funny enough, the CD arrived a couple of weeks later and I had already forgotten about BlackØwl or how great their songs sounded. Eventually, I recalled that this was the band that Miranda had suggested had the “Album of The Year” so I quickly put the Fly Away CD for a spin. Let’s just say that it hasn’t left my CD player. Similar in some ways to Stripwired, whose second album Another Shot finished at #2 on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2019, BlackØwl sound like what you would want AC/DC to sound like now if the veteran rockers would be delivering a worthy follow up to Back In Black. Well, that’s kind of hard but at least think of what you’d really like to hear on an AC/DC record without having to push the band to reach the lofty heights of the sublime Back In Black album.
One thing that struck me while viewing BlackØwl‘s videos is that their singer Dani Martos looks so young and almost baby faced compared to the rest of his bandmates. You almost wonder how his Brian Johnson sounding vocals come out of his mouth. I don’t know if Martos was already rocking and rolling in 2016 when AC/DC auditioned a handful of largely unknown Brian Johnson sounding singers but let’s just say, that Martos could well have landed the AC/DC gig. By now, you’ve likely gotten the message that I am really digging BlackØwl‘s debut full-length album Fly Away. I’m not going to take you song by song for this album because it’s simply not necessary. Every track ranges from good to great. I do find that there is a bit of a lull with the fourth and fifth songs (“Deep Water” and “Speak of The Devil”) in that the two slower paced rockers don’t rock out as much as the rest of the tracks on the album. However, those two aforementioned songs would be on the lower range of the ”good” category while the hard rocking ones such as “Smoking Rock ‘N’ Roll”, “Napoli Street” and “Welcome To Rockerdale” would be at the top of the scale of the ”great” category.
As one would expect with AC/DC, the rhythm section for BlackØwl consisting of bassist Victor Ortiz, drummer Dani Calderon and rhythm guitarist Jesus Montero is tight as fuck! Lead guitarist Fran Návarro is no slouch either delivering some great guitar solos on tracks such as on “Smoking Rock ‘N’ Roll” and the title track. There is not much more to say except that BlackØwl‘s debut full-length album Fly Away will most likely find its way in the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2021 and the only real question is where it should figure rather than whether it should be in there. For quite a while now, there have been two other albums in my mind vying for the top spot this year but if there is one record that could disrupt the top two, it might well be BlackØwl‘s album Fly Away.
01. Smoking Rock ‘N’ Roll
02. Napoli Street
03. Easy Job
04. Deep Water
05. Speak of The Devil
06. Long Road Ghosts
07. What Do You Want
08. Welcome To Rockerdale
09. Don’t Stop
10. Fly Away
Victor Ortiz – bass
Dani Martos – vocals
Dani Calderon – drums
Fran Návarro – lead guitar
Jesus Montero – rhythm guitar
Engineered, mixed and mastered by Marc Ferrando
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, October 2021
BlackØwl‘s “Smoking Rock ‘N’ Roll” video:
BlackØwl‘s “Napoli Street” video:
BlackØwl‘s “Easy Job” studio video: