René Thomsen, guitarist, composer, and mastermind is back with his new album Unbroken, out now via Artist Station- eOne. I’m not sure why, but this one had to grow on me. When I first popped it in there was almost nothing that stood out to me from the glut of rock and metal releases I get on a daily basis. This saddened me because the guy who gave it to me is one of my favorites in the business, and I know he was pretty high on it. So I figured I’d leave it be for a while and come back. Then it happened. This past weekend I put it on again and instantly found myself drawn in by the razor-sharp riffs and in-your-face drumming. Delving a little deeper I was pleasantly surprised to see one of the best drummers around, Bobby Jarzombek, playing on not one, but FOUR tracks on the record. Consider me sold!!
Opener “Draw the Curtain” is Classic Heavy Metal 101, going 0-60 in a flash with Jarzombek at the controls. My favorite song also features his drumming on “New Horizon”. How the hell did I miss this the first time around?? That hook is majestic!! “Break That Spell” is another one that rips. Thomsen knows how to get killer riffs from his axes, that’s obvious. But the song structures dare you not to bang your head and/or tap your feet. You can’t with some of these. They just get into you. “Dream” has a big and rich drum sound (courtesy of RAGE skinsman André Hilgers, who’s also on “Spell”) that fills the room as it comes from your speakers and it sounds very DIO-like on the choruses, now-departed vocalist Robert Soeterboek singing his best on this number.
What I like most about the tunes on this disc is that they have that classic 80’s metal feel with almost NONE of the clichés from that era we could all do without. Sure, “In Steel We Trust” and “Fools of Fortune” sound kind of dated compared to the rest of them, but with a 12-song album you’re bound to have one or two that don’t quite measure up. Then along comes “Into the Unknown”, a veritable wall of sound crashing down on your head. Fuck me, the guitars and drums, man!! Jarzombek once again shows why he is a Drum King on title track “Unbroken” and there is yet another hook that you’ll be humming hours later.
Thomsen wrote “We Made It” during the night following Ronnie James Dio’s death in remembrance of a great metal singer and even greater person. He got Vinny Appice to play drums and none other than Udo Dirkschneider to sing it, and it is a fantastic anthem to a fallen hero whose death many of us are still not over, and I don’t think we ever will be. New vocalist Denis Brosowski (IRON FATE) shows up for the last two songs, “One” and a live rehearsal stage version of “Tears of the Sun”. Man oh man, this cat can sing! German audiences are in for a treat on the upcoming tour. With a ton of cool guest stars and some badass riff-rockers, Unbroken is an album that fans of good songwriting should flock to in droves. How on earth I didn’t catch on the first time around is beyond me, but I am fully onboard now!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Unbroken”, “New Horizon”, “Into the Unknown”, “Dream”, “Break That Spell”, “We Made It”, “One”