Released in January 2019 (Supercel Records)
As the rock n’ roll world waits for Angus Young and company to bring us what could well be the last AC/DC studio album and most likely the last one featuring guitar riffs from Malcolm Young, there is a new AC/DC — I mean new Stripwired — studio album available right now that will blow you away. It’s perhaps not surprising to learn that AC/DC tribute band Back In Black sound a lot like AC/DC but it may surprise quite a few that Stripwired have released the best AC/DC album since 1990’s The Razors Edge.
First of all, Stripwired lead vocalist Darren Caperna sounds almost exactly like AC/DC singer Brian Johnson. You might be able to distinguish the two on the high notes or screams. That’s about it. Caperna does an exceptionally great job of sounding like Johnson. After all, he’s been doing it for almost 20 years as the singer for Back In Black. How good does Caperna sound? Well, Caperna auditioned for Johnson‘s vacant spot (at the time) with the mighty AC/DC in 2016. Caperna didn’t get the gig as someone with a lot of star power (Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose) beat him to it but there’s no question that Caperna could have handled the vocal duties in AC/DC. After all, AC/DC wouldn’t bother playing with him for five hours during his audition if that wasn’t the case. Bottom line, Caperna sounds very, very close to Johnson so anyone into AC/DC‘s Johnson era will undoubtedly like his voice.
I had kind of forgotten what a great first impression that Stripwired made on me when I first heard their track “Another Shot.” I liked it so much that I e-mailed Stripwired guitarist Michael Mroz asking if I could interview him for Sleaze Roxx on the strength of that one song. The interview did take place in December of last year and as can often happen, out of sight, out of mind. I knew Stripwired‘s sophomore album Another Shot (I’ll get to the debut further along in this review) was going to be released the next month but kind of got sidetracked with all of Sleaze Roxx‘s year end top album charts. Eventually, Mroz sent me an absolutely gorgeous vinyl copy of Another Shot. The vinyl copy is a very sharp blue colour, which is so nice that I hardly want to play the vinyl record for fear of damaging it in any way. I ended up ordering the CD, which I just received today. Usually, it might take me a few days or even a few weeks to digest an album and come up with a review but there is no need to wait this time around.
From the opening guitar riff on the album opener “Another Shot” to Caperna‘s first vocal line on that song, I had the goosebumps. I can’t say enough about “Another Shot.” If you don’t like that song, hell, you don’t like rock n’ roll. Caperna shows his versatility from the opening Bon Scott like vocals for the verses to the Brian Johnson like screams before the chorus / guitar solo portion of the song. “Another Shot” measures up and would fit alongside AC/DC‘s many classic tracks without any doubt. Funny enough, the title track along with five other songs on Another Shot were all on Stripwired‘s debut self-titled album, which was released way back in 2007. As it turns out, my predecessor Skid reviewed the album and it’s absolutely no surprise to me that he really liked the record. As anyone can tell from the new album title, Stripwired wanted ‘another shot’ and the opportunity to offer us some of their great songs with some really good production. Mission accomplished on Another Shot!
While “Another Shot” reminds of more vintage like AC/DC, a lot of the tracks remind me of AC/DC‘s The Razors Edge era with songs like “Fifty Cent Millionaire” and “Mr. Moneybags”, and since Caperna sounds more like Johnson than Scott. “Run” is a fun track and I bet the words “crazy bitch” will stick out in your mind. “Raise Your Glass” is another great song and keeps the theme of ‘another shot’ going with its lyrics. “Doghouse” has tons of swagger and even a little boogie to it. I could go song by song and tell you how great each one is but why bother? If you like AC/DC, you’re going to like Stripwired‘s Another Shot. If you love AC/DC and are willing to give new songs a shot, you are going to love Another Shot.
This is easily my favourite album of 2019 (so far). Michael Mroz‘s guitar playing is phenomenal. It’s not because he is going to blow you away with some slick guitar playing, but because his solos are melodic, tasty and fit the songs so nicely. The rhythm section is rock solid and it’s worth noting that the supporting cast for Caperna and Mroz this time around has completely changed with drummer Ken Schiumo (replacing Jay Benzi), bassist Sheldon Conrad (instead of Taylor Smith) and rhythm guitar player Ramiro Noriega (taking over for Mike Wagner). Whatever the case, the rhythm section is rock solid and allows both Caperna and Mroz to really shine. The album Another Shot ends with “Big Bob Steel” which has a bit of an Alice Cooper feel to it and ends the record on a bit of a different and humorous note, and the way many groups from Van Halen (think “Happy Trails”) to Alice Cooper (for example, “I Love The Dead”) used to end their records back in the day.
Like I said, if you like AC/DC, you’re going to like Stripwired‘s Another Shot. If you love AC/DC and are willing to give new songs a shot, you are going to love Another Shot. Quite simply, Stripwired‘s Another Shot is the album that AC/DC should be releasing next.
01. Another Shot
03. Raise Your Glass
05. Fifty Cent Millionnaire
06. Walk Away
07. The Underdogs
08. Drop The Bomb
09. Back Door
10. Mr. Moneybags
11. Big Bob Steel
Darren Caperna – lead vocals
Michael Mroz – lead guitar
Ken Schiumo – drums
Sheldon Conrad – bass
Ramiro Noriega – rhythm guitar
Produced by Michael Mroz
Co-produced and mixed by Sterling Winfield
Engineered by Casey Dilomo
Mastered by Robert Vosglen
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, March 2019
Stripwired‘s “Another Shot” video:
Another Shot (Official Video) Connect with Stripwired: https://www.facebook.com/stripwired https://www.instagram.com/stripwired https://twitter.com/stripwiredtx http://www.stripwired.com Directed by Michael Mroz Produced by Alex Michael Kennedy Music video by Stripwired performing Another Shot. © 2018 Supercel Records
Stripwired‘s “Run” video:
Run (Official Video) Connect with Stripwired: https://www.facebook.com/stripwired https://www.instagram.com/stripwired https://twitter.com/stripwiredtx PRE-ORDER OUR ALBUM: http://www.stripwired.com Directed by Michael Mroz Produced by Alex Michael Kennedy Music video by Stripwired performing Run. © 2018 Supercel Records