Red Dragon Cartel: ‘Patina’

Released on November 9, 2018 (Frontiers Music Srl)

Jake E. Lee, the rock ‘n’ roll recluse, placed himself on a bit of a self-imposed exile since Badlands disbanded. There were brief stints with Wicked Alliance with singer Mandy Lion and The Bourgeois Pigs with Shark Island singer Richard Black and House of Lords guitarist Michael Guy — but those projects were not meant to be. Throughout the years, there’s been speculation about Jake. Mostly rumors and mostly negative, as to why Lee stepped out of the spotlight. There was everything from drinking and drugging to having sustained an injury that resulted in his inability to play to being homeless. The truth is Jake had been living in Las Vegas for several years. In 2012, friend Ronnie Mancuso (Beggars & Thieves) and producer Kevin Churko encouraged Lee to write new music and record it with the promise that if he didn’t feel it, he could resume his reclusive lifestyle.

The sessions led to the recording of the Red Dragon Cartel (2014) album, which was a modern rock record that included several guests. Those who contributed to the effort were Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander and Tom PetersonSlash drummer Brent Fitz; singers Maria Brink (In This Moment), Sass Jordan (S.U.N.), and Paul DiAnno (Iron Maiden). There was noticeable cohesion and chemistry in the tracks with core band against the tracks with guests. While some ‘guest’ tracks are better than others — those seem somewhat disjointed in comparison to those with the core band. The band got off to a terrible start, beginning with their handful of gigs, then featured a revolving doors of bass players, then singers and well it was a mess. The record did spawn some great tunes like “Feeder,” “Deceived,” “Shout It Out,” “Wasted” and “War Machine.”

The tour behind the Red Dragon Cartel album was such a clusterfuck that if Jake E. Lee shut down Red Dragon Cartel and was never heard from for a while or ever, it would have not been surprising. He is back however, joining him are bassist Anthony Esposito (Ace Frehley, Lynch Mob), drummer Phil Varone (Saigon Kick, Skid Row) and the only holdover from the previous line-up singer Darren James Smith (Harem Scarem). Patina also marks a reunion with producer Max Norman (Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth, Armored Saint, Loudness) who mixed the album.

Patina has the cohesiveness that Red Dragon Cartel lacked. The players sound like a band. Although not road tested, based on what we hear on Patina, they are road ready. In short, there’s chemistry with this band. Esposito’s booming grooves compliment Varone’s percussive beats and along with Jake’s crunchy, bluesy riffs and blazing solos, one can only salivate at the thoughts of seeing this band live. Smith’s vocals aren’t too bad either. He has stepped it up a couple notches on Patina. You’re probably heard “Crooked Man” since it was the first song released for the album. Other standouts are “Speedbag” which should get a rise out of the fans of Jake’s disciples and “Havana” — you’ll be blown away by the guitar work on this one. “The Luxury of Breathing” is a darker tune that is sure to become a staple in the setlist. “A Painted Heart” is the closest thing you’ll get to a ballad on here. This one has a “Rooster” (Alice In Chains) type vibe to it. So in short, Patina showcases the outcome of Red Dragon Cartel as it were to function as a band. I, for one, was a fan of the debut album, but I love this one a tad more.

Track List:
01. Speedbag
02. Havana
03. Crooked Man
04. The Luxury Of Breathing
05. Bitter
06. Chasing Ghosts
07. A Painted Heart
08. Punchclown (Bonus Track)
09. My Beautiful Mess
10. Ink & Water

Band Members:
Jake E. Lee – guitars
Darren James Smith – lead vocals, percussion
Anthony Esposito – bass
Phil Varone – drums

Produced by Anthony Esposito and Jake E. Lee
Engineered by Anthony Esposito and Tyler Esposito
Mixed by Max Norman

Band Websites:
Official Website

Reviewed by Ruben Mosqueda for Sleaze Roxx, November 2018

Red Dragon Cartel‘s “Havana” video:

Red Dragon Cartel – “Havana” (Official Music Video)

Subscribe To Be Alerted When We Add New Videos – | From the album PATINA. Get your copy NOW: …

Red Dragon Cartel‘s “Crooked Man” lyric video:

Red Dragon Cartel – “Crooked Man” (Official Lyric Video)

Subscribe To Be Alerted When We Add New Videos – | From the album PATINA. Get your copy NOW:…