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Old Head - "Maximum Rock" (CD)

Old Head - "Maximum Rock" CD cover image

"Maximum Rock" track listing:

1. Fat Man
2. Bleeder
3. Libertine
4. Kill, Kill, Kill
5. Almost Cut My Hair
6. Ungodly
7. Consumptuous
8. Rock N Roll Doctor
9. Stoner Grind
10. Ballad Of Old Head

Reviewed by on April 7, 2012

"Even with all the instrumental talent, Old Head's 'Maximum Rock' feels pretty lightweight, despite some excellent guitar and drum work."

Old Head describes the sound of "Maximum Rock" as being for fans of early Megadeth and, in that it features lightspeed solos crammed into every nook and cranny, along with some on-a-dime time changes, it's an apt comparison. An even more apt comparison, though, would be to Boston-based Razormaze, whose debut disc "The True Speed Of Steel" (which I reviewed a couple years ago) tried and failed to meld tongue-in-cheek fun with technically proficient thrash in the same way this album does.

Tracks like "Consumptuous" with its "consume unto your doom" chorus lamenting the state of the world aim to mix social consciousness with MegaDan Tumelo's over-the-top vocal delivery and fall flat. Equally silly is "The Ballad Of Old Head," which has the guys (surprise, surprise) announcing that "we sold our souls to rock n' roll."

Of the disc's three covers, only Jethro Tull's "Fat Man" comes off well. The Black Sabbath boogie "Rock N Roll Doctor" gets thrashed up to ill effect and the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young cover "Almost Cut My Hair" is especially lightweight.

On the positive side, the guitar work by Ryan Moll is never anything short of brilliant. "Bleeder" is the best showcase for his skills, with some superb speedy rhythm riffing and a pair of almost impossibly fast solos. "Stoner Grind" has him coming off somewhere between Ace Frehley and Kerry King.

Also notable is the drumming of Brutal Truth's Richard Hoak, which livens up tracks like "Kill, Kill, Kill" and the Iron Maiden-ish "Libertine."

Even with all the instrumental talent, Old Head's "Maximum Rock" feels pretty lightweight, despite some excellent guitar and drum work. Maybe next time the band should cut down on the tongue-in-cheek stuff.

Highs: "Fat Man," "Bleeder" and "Libertine"

Lows: "Rock N Roll Doctor" and "Almost Cut My Hair"

Bottom line: The tongue-in-cheek attitude wears thin quickly, but these thrashers sure can play.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)