Thursday, May 31, 2012

Gaskin-Edge Of Madness

High Roller Records

Raise your hands if the first Gaskin number you ever heard was "I'm no Fool". Same here. Raise your hand if you then rushed out to pick up more Gaskin only to be disappointed to discover that the band's other material was not the same. Again, same here. Gaskin was more of a blues-based hard rock outfit then the "I'm no Fool" single let on. While I was at first let down by this notion there music did grow on me over time. That said there has always been this one issue for me when it comes to this N.W.O.B.H.M. band and that is how hot and cold they would run. On 1981's "End of the World" and 1982's "No Way Out" it seemed as if the band would either knock it out of the part or hit foul after foul. While the number "I'm no Fool" (which gave Lars Ulrich a serious....) is the one number the band will most likely allows be remembered for that isn't to say Gaskin does not offer plenty on their older material or for that matter on "Edge Of Madness".
The fact is this is a pretty strong album all in all. Now, it looks as if two tracks were already released on the 2012 EP, "The Contract", those being the title cut, "The Contract", "Bedlam" and "Man's World". It is interesting to note that originally Gaskin recorded 16 tracks in the studio for this album, but due to the time restrictions of vinyl and CD only 10 tracks were chosen for “Edge of Madness”. Knowing that it does seem odd that they choose to included the three cuts from the EP. Especially as the instrumental rocker "For absent Friends" and a "couple of simple head banging tracks" were left off. As Paul Gaskin (vocals, guitars, keyboards) himself says "It’s a shame about the instrumental, as I think it contains my best ever recorded solo. Who knows when they will appear? We could use them on the next album, or maybe release some singles in the future. We really don’t know at this point." Oh well what can be said? Getting back to this release though (the fourth full-length Gaskin album) and after the intro "Just Before Dawn" the track "Damnation" kicks in. According to the promo material this is an older number and, as such, it does have a rather distinct early eighties British metal feel to it and that is frankly cool. As an opener (supposedly it is a set opening to which makes sense) it is works as it sets the album off on the right foot. "Heart like Thunder" is another good hard rock number and as the promo itself mentions to sound's a lot like "early 1980's Rainbow". Now, since Paul Gaskin himself has such a good range the cut "Man's World" works really well. Nik Turner of Hawkwind plays saxophone on the song and before you run off screaming let me just say that, even as a somewhat AOR number, it actually works. "Man's World" does seem like an odd number when stacked next to some of the heavier material like "The Contract". Moving on and, just like on their earlier material, number's like "Wake Up Dead" do leave you wanting a bit more. I understand that Gaskin pulls from so many different influences from British metal like Diamond Head to AOR like Journey, but this song just fizzles. For every good song ("Bedlam") there is one I could take or leave ("Lost & Lonely"). The album does have another intro cut, "Te Amavi", which shows off Paul Gaskin's guitar skills. He is certainly one of the most underrated guitarists of the N.W.O.B.H.M. movement that is for sure. Overall "Edge Of Madness" is a good album and a release I can recommend. Just be forewarned that not every song is an absolute winner. For a band that never got their proper due the first time around this album does present strong material and is a good hard rock/blues rock/British metal affair. I just wish that every cut was as strong as "The Contract" or "Damnation". If that was the case this album would be an absolute stone cold killer.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gaskin is a rock genius. He doesn't follow trends, he makes them. This revue is shit.....

9:20 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

Thanks for your opinion. While I do agree that Gaskin has some serious talent I still stand by my review of this album. It is very hit or miss. Being a genius at anything does not automatically mean that your material is going to appeal to everyone. For example Frank Zappa was considered a genius and there is some material by him that sounds like utter crap. Same goes for many guitarists incl. (but not limited to) Eddie Van Halen, Yngwie Malmsteen, Jimmy Page and even Jimi Hendrix. Talent does not allows equal creativity.

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think overall it's a fair review. Interesting to see what songs work for what folks. I for instance loved Lost & Lonely, especially the guitar duel at the end. You can please some of the people some of the time......etc.

12:57 AM  

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