Rough Cutt: ‘III’

Released on June 8, 2021 (DDR Music Group)

For those keeping track, there’s now two Rough Cutts, the one featuring guitarist Chris Hager and drummer Dave Alford, and the recently regrouped version with frontman Paul Shortino, guitarist Amir Derakh and bassist Matt Thorne. Hager and Alford played some live gigs in 2019 and have live shows lined up for later this summer. They’ve released a video for the song “Black Rose,” this spring. After Rough Cutt disbanded in 2018, Shortino and Hager formed Rough Riot with [guitarist] Carlos Cavazo and [bassist] Sean McNabb, both of Quiet Riot fame, before disbanding that.

This brings us to June 2021 when Shortino, Derakh and Thorne, out of nowhere issued the III album via the DDR Music Group label. The trio enlisted help from former Quiet Riot and Ratt (and also one time Rough Riot) guitarist Carlos Cavazo to play some lead guitar on some tunes. III is composed of songs that were written by the band members when they reunited a few years ago and intended to record new music. I should point out that long-time followers of the band will notice that the tracks “Prowler,” “Peyote” and “House of Pain” were previously available on the Rough Cutt Live album issued in the mid-’90s. That album is now out of print, and adding these bonus studio cuts brings additional value to this release. I really enjoyed the ‘modern,’ darker and heavier approach on “Prowler” and “House of Pain.” I wasn’t fond of “Peyote” when I heard it in the ’90s, but it has grown on me over the years. The ‘new’ material within is a continuation of the direction was going when they recorded the aforementioned bonus tracks.

Getting to the stuff that we haven’t heard before — well almost since Hager and Alford released a video for “Black Rose” which is a refined version of the tune “Bed of Black Roses” on III — The great melody, hook and chorus, remain intact here, but with different verses and an absolutely blistering solo. “Electric” features a killer driving groove, with a fantastic and memorable riff. “Dive” and “Bleed” are great representation of modern era Cutt. Shortino’s signature vocal is undeniable, but missing are the dual guitar harmonies that have been the other trademark of the Rough Cutt sound. As far as the remainder of the recent material — “Don’t Say A Word” and “Secrets” — they miss the mark, but have potential. “Chasing Your Dreams” closes the album and is an all acoustic affair that highlights Shortino’s still present, magnificent vocal abilities. My first impression is that it was likely a solo Shortino tune that made the album, as it is the only song listed with Shortino as the sole songwriter.

The verdict is this, III just dropped from the sky. My thought is that it came together relatively quickly, judging from the production, the use of previously issued material and what sounds [at times] like incomplete compositions. I can almost envision Shortino, Derakh and Thorne ‘woodshedding’ existing song ideas over the course of two long weekends, in order to fast track a release, before Hager and Alford got music on shelves. Makes me wonder what would have been if the five guys of the classic line-up, would have continued to refine the new stuff on III.

Track List:
01. Dive
02. Bleed
03. Bed Of Black Roses
04. Don’t Say A Word
05. Electric
06. Secrets
07. House of Pain
08. Prowler
09. Peyote
10. Chasing Dreams

Band Members:
Paul Shortino – vocals, acoustic guitar
Amir Derakh – guitars
Matt Thorne – bass, guitar, background vocals

Additional Musicians:
Carlos Cavazo – lead guitar (2, 3, 5)
Chris Hager – guitar (7, 8, 9)
Dave Alford – drums (7, 8, 9)

Mixed by Matt Thorne
Mastered by Lance V.

DDR Music Group website
DDR Music Group Bandcamp

Reviewed by Ruben Mosqueda for Sleaze Roxx, June 2021

Rough Cutt‘s “Dive” single (from III album):

Rough Cutt‘s “Bed Of Black Roses” single (from III album):