Skip to main content

Rock Review: Red Dragon Cartel-Self Titled

Release Date:January 28, 2014
Label: Frontiers Records

Jake E. Lee is no stranger to the rock game. He made a name for himself in the 80s as the guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne on 1983’s Bark at the Moon and 1986’s The Ultimate Sin. After being fired from Ozzy’s band, he went on to form Badlands with Ray Gillen, which lasted from the late 80s into the early 90s. He released his first solo album in 1996, the well-received A Fine Pink Mist. He stayed relatively quiet going into the new millennium and the years that followed, releasing solo albums in ’05, ’07, and ’08.  However, things could not remain the same forever.

Jake E. Lee is back with a bright new band called Red Dragon Cartel.  Red Dragon Cartel is Jake E. Lee (guitar), Ronnie Mancuso (bass), Darren James Smith (vocals), and Jonas Fairley (drums, backing vocals).  Their self-titled debut also features Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander, Iron Maiden’s original vocalist Paul Di'Anno, Rex Brown from Pantera, Five Finger Death Punch drummer Jeremy Spencer, and In This Moment vocalist Maria Brink.

“Deceived” has Red Dragon Cartel at its best, making it one of the high points of the album. It is a rocking and catchy tune that flows with energy. The life in the song is hard to ignore, not the mention the amazing guitar action that runs throughout the album. “Deceived” is a song that works, while, on the other hand, “Shout It Out” is a song that does not.  It reminds me of 80s rock songs, but it left me thinking that I have heard it all before and lacked the life of the opener. Getting things back in the right direction is the hard hitting “Feeder.”

Next up is the show stealing “Fall from the Sky (Seagull).”  It is the type of song where everything comes together for a magical music moment.  It is the song that leaves an impression and the guitar just takes everything to the next level, rising above all other songs.  “Wasted” is another problematic song because I am not too hot on the gruff sounding vocals. It might grow on others after repeat listens, but not for me.  “Slave” keeps things fresh with its rip-roaring guitar work.  The vocal styling of Maria Brink makes “Big Mouth” worth at least one listen and definitely will have me checking out more of her work.  Heading toward the closure is The Black Sabbath-esque “War Machine” and the fiery, blues-rock “Redeem Me,” which is a pleasant surprise. The mellow “Exquisite Tenderness” is a beautiful song, but the piano track does sound out of place on this rock album.

In the end, I think this will be a divisive album for listeners with people coming away from it with a “love it” or “hate it” type of mentality.  I am sure that not everyone will like the many changes in vocalists and there are some misses on the album.  All in all, I think that Red Dragon Cartel’s debut is a case where the music is able to rise above its faults.  This is only their first album, so it will be interesting to see where they go from here.

3.5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Deceived, Fall from the Sky (Seagull)”, Redeem Me

Brian McKinnon

April 26, 2014

02.Shout It Out
04.Fall from the Sky (Seagull)
07.Big Mouth
08.War Machine
09.Redeem Me
10.Exquisite Tenderness

Review Provided By Write A Music Review


Popular posts from this blog

New Age Instrumental Review: Anaya Music-AONKI – Gateway of Love (Cosmic New Age Music)

Release Date: February 2, 2018 Label: Anaya Music Website
Around this time a year ago I had the experience of listening to Anaya Music and providing coverage of Eternity.  It was an uplifting experience and a memorable listen as I recall.
Now with February drawing closer AONKI – Gateway of Love (Cosmic New Age Music) will arrive.
Once again, the recording features several exceptional collaborations between Anaya Music and a live virtual symphony orchestra recorded in the heart of Prague, the capital of the Czech republic. The orchestra combines members of the finest ensembles in Prague, including the Czech Philharmonic.
I think they should rename the orchestra to “The Live Spiritual Orchestra.” If you have been exposed to Anaya Music you will understand what that means. If this is your first journey with this music you will find out very quickly. Either way, this is spiritually uplifting music that leaves a smile on your soul. It’s like the term digital footprint, there is an everlasting m…

Jazz Fusion-Rock-Pop-Funk Review: Project Grand Slam-Trippin’

Release Date: June 29, 2018 Label: Cakewalk Records Website
This will be my sixth voyage into the world of Project Grand Slam (PGS). So, what is this experience going to be like this time? I would expect the same great combination of jazz, rock, funk, and pop that I always enjoyed.

Just so you all know PGS is: Robert Miller (bass), Mario Castro (saxophones), Bayden Goyo (keyboards), Joel E. Mateo (drums), Guillermo Barron Rios (percussion), Tristan Clark (guitar) and the beautiful Ms. Ziarra Washington (vocals).

So, now we are Trippin’ into 2018 with PGS. And the first track titled “1972” was like turning on the radio and hearing the Average White Band or Tower of Power. Yes sir, on the AM dial, it came blaring through back in those days. 

The title track is a real gas too. This number has some great sax from Castro and a killer rhythm section courtesy of Miller and Mateo. It shines the spotlight on them clear and bright. Let me tell you, those two are like the dynamic duo, kind of like a p…

New Biography on The Cars Singer/Bassist Benjamin Orr by Vermont Writer Joe Milliken to be Published November 2018!

Bellows Falls, VT – Veteran music journalist Joe Milliken recently announced a publishing deal with the Lanham, Maryland-based publisher Rowman & Littlefield Publishers to produce his first book, a biography about the late Benjamin Orr. Orr was the co-founder, co-lead singer, and bassist for the platinum-selling rock band The Cars. Titled Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars, a release date is set for November 15, 2018.

Often considered the band’s heartthrob, Orr possessed an incredible voice, diverse musical talent and rare stage presence, all balanced by a magnetic, yet enigmatic personality, striking good looks, and a relentless determination to reach rock stardom. Born Benjamin Orzechowski (aka “Benny Eleven Letters”) and raised in the Cleveland suburb of Parma Heights, Orr was, prior to becoming a world-famous rock star with The Cars, a “teen star” as a house band musician for the nationally syndicated television show Upbeat.

A few years later Ben met his musical partner and …