I’m a big Black Water Rising fan. I have been since I got that Metal Edge CD sampler at a Judas Priest show at Jones Beach in August, 2008 (many of you already know the story), featuring “Brother Go On”. And “Go On” it did. Onto every playlist I made that summer, onto every car ride I took, and every party I hosted. It was my unofficial anthem. Seeing them play live in December of that year at The Crazy Donkey (R.I.P.) only made me more of a fan. Here was a no-frills, no-bullshit, straight-up rock band from New York City with killer riffs and Balls of Steel! Fast forward five years later and we FINALLY get their sophomore release Pissed and Driven via Metalville Records. So let’s go!
Right out of the gate “Show No Mercy” shows you EXACTLY what these guys have been up to: Crafting riffs other bands can only dream of, with a thick as molasses rhythm section. Drummer Mike Meselsohn is squarely in the driver’s seat on this one. “Last Man Standing” is a song you could see used in a movie right before the penultimate action sequence. When Rob Traynor lets fly with “Last maaaaaan standing!” so many battle images come to mind, it’s insane. The title track “Pissed and Driven” hits the gas pedal again, taking on more of a metal feel than the rest of the record, but once again, the guitars are out of this world. Rob and newest member Dennis Kimak have this tone when they play, that’s unlike anything I’ve ever heard. It’s got warmth, but it’s also got that Les Paul crunch that cracks your ribs.
A serious shift in gears happens with “Dance With the Devil” which may be the finest song on the album. It is a dark story about addiction, the sex trade, homelessness, and hopelessness, and the chorus section is one of the best pieces of music this band has written up till now. The intro to “Along For the Ride” belies the 1-2-3, 2-2-3 beat of the song, and the whole thing is musically and vocally pure gold. “Fire It Up” is pretty straightforward, and the guitars are all attitude.
I only wish I could have been a fly on the wall when they were coming up with “All Gone”. From the underwater vocal sound on the verses to the angst-ridden refrain, it is a hybrid of the 60’s and today that will have a lot of people scratching their heads, but in a good, “Whoa! How’d they come up with that??” kind of way. “The Allure of Self Destruction” is another all-killer, no-filler number. I love that you can really hear bassist Oddie McLaughlin on the record, this song in particular. “Broken Man” has one of the finest, if also shortest solos on the disc, too, and album closer “We Are the Authority” barks out its chorus with, well, authority.
I should be mad at Black Water Rising. They have just made my life much harder. Every year I pick my Top Ten Albums list, and it’s gonna be very hard not to have Pissed and Driven in this year’s.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Dance With the Devil”, “All Gone”, “The Allure of Self Destruction”, “Along For the Ride”, “Show No Mercy”