Johnny Wore Black-Walking Underwater Pt. 2
Originally issued back in November of last year, "Walking Underwater Pt. 2" is the second Johhny Wore Black recording to have been released in 2014. As it's title clearly spells out it is also the follow-up to the dark rock/melodic metal album, "Walking Underwater.". That album (which I also recommend) was well-received by critics, including yours truly(!), and it helped turn one-time A-list stuntman "Jay" into a legitimate rock and roll performer! As you might recall that album was produced by Grammy Award Winner David Bottrill (Dream Theater, Tool, The Smashing Pumpkins, Muse, Godsmack, Between the Buried and Me, Stone Sour, Coheed and Cambria, Silverchair, etc.) and the melancholy affair featured songwriting contributions & musical performances from Megadeth bassist/main-man David Ellefson. On "Walking Underwater Pt. 2" it's more of the same kind of dark magic as not only does this highly-regarded & massively skilled pair help Johnny Wore Black with the album's production, but David Ellefson handles most of the album's bass duties! Dave also co-wrote three of the album's tracks including the hit single in the making, "Firefly"! You can check out the video for "Firefly" here and (incidental) this huge rock song not only open's "Walking Underwater Pt. 2", but it's the Double A side to "Comfy Slippers"*! Dave's other songwriting contributions come in the form of "A Cut Above" and "Gift of Desperation" and on Johnny Wore Black's second album the Megadeth's bassist proves just how amazing he is as a songwriter and musician! "A Cut Above" is actually the second track on "Walking Underwater Pt. 2" and these two wild songs alone ("Firefly" and "A Cut Above") are more than enough reason to recommend this alternative rock/metal-leaning album!! Mixed by David Bottrill, "Walking Underwater Pt. 2" is everything that I enjoyed about Johnny Wore Black first outing only slightly tweaked. If anything though I'd say that part two is slightly stronger. It's every-bit as atmospheric as the band's debut was and just as dark theme-wise. With it's clever mix of dark metal, hard rock, nineties alternative rock, heavy rock, guitar pop, goth rock and electronic rock it captures your imagination and holds it a tight grip. Part two of the saga also happens to be just as hypnotic and spellbinding as part one was. If not more so. And yet there's something extra going on here that I can't quite put my finger on. Whatever it is it makes "Walking Underwater Pt. 2" the better album of the two and that goes way beyond the strength the album's first two singles, "Firefly" and "Comfy Slippers" and the aforementioned classic song in the making, "A Cut Above". For sure "Fallen Angel" is a sold rocker and the Dave Ellefson contribution "Gift of Desperation" is sad-sounding, but nonetheless splendid. So is "Whose Children" and "Noise"! Even the oddly funky "I Do Dissolve" is good and these various tracks do go a long way towards making this album something special. And yet there's still something else here. Maybe it's the fact that there are other guests on "Walking Underwater Pt. 2" beside just Dave Ellefson? Singer/songwriter Sara Renar guests on the strangely beautiful "Shine On" and soul-singer Loretta Heywood appears on the rock-steady "Winter in July". "Shine On" is haunting in a oddly comfortable kind of way and that has a lot to do with the song's Croatian guest! The memorizing track is blessed ten fold by her outstanding voice and it stands in contrast to Jay's somewhat raspy style. It's both sad and seductive and it's a nice addition to album's overall vibe. "Winter In July" is similarly blessed by the appearance of guest singer Loretta Heywood and on this Bomb The Bass cover she joins hands with Jay in order to close the album on a high note. When looping the album, "Winter in July" creates a nice circle with "Firefly" and in the end Johnny Wore Black proved itself capable of producing the right kind of rock album to jump start a long-career. And let's hope that Johnny Wore Black does have a long career. As good as "Walking Underwater Pt. 2" is I know I'm not alone in wanting to hear more from this new alternative rock/metal sensation!
You can catch the video for "Comfy Slipper" over at Classic Rock Magazine