Blacktop Mojo review of their new record “Burn the Ships” by reviewers Vince and Dean!
A few weeks ago I had sent the Blacktop Mojo record, “Burn the Ships” to be reviewed. A week later, forgetting that I had done so, I sent it to another reviewer. In an attempt to get two points of view, I introduce a tale of two reviewers and one record.
V: The Blacktop Mojo record, “Burn the Ship”: is the second full-length release from the hard rocking Texas band that has been steadily gaining notoriety the past few years. Burn The Ships is 13 tracks of crunchy guitars, pulsating rhythms, and infectious hooks.
D: Let me start this review with a big old Rebel yell for Blacktop Mojo! I had no preconceptions and am rarely this impressed after 1 listen through any CD, but “Burn the Ships’ merits it!
V: Their music feels instantly familiar with their ability to southern fry the best elements of similar bands like Shinedown, Sevendust, Alter Bridge, and the like.
D: It sounded like a mix of Seattle meets southern fried rock and roll and it WORKS! Think Alter Bridge meets Stone Temple Pilots meets Lynyrd Skynyrd, if you will….I know, sounds crazy right? Grungeneck?!? Whatever you want to call it, it works!
V: The opening track Where the Wind Blows starts with an acoustic banjo like intro that quickly resolves into a heavy mid-tempo rocker and sets the pace for the entire record. Every track is moderate to mid-tempo, which is refreshing in a metal world where speed often trumps musicality. This is no nonsense, straight up rock and roll.
D: I agree. Where the Wind Blows kicks the album off with an acoustic feel that crescendos in to toe tapping riffs and when the vocals kicked in I knew this might be one heck of a band.
V: The Blacktop Mojo title track Burn the Ships is based on Viking lore, in my opinion.
D: Burn the Ships has an underlying mid-tempo guitar chug running throughout the song. The song takes a darker turn and paints a picture of fervor and snarl.
V: Many tracks have musical breakdowns that really highlight the talent of the band. A solid bass line brings you into 8000 Lines, tribal drums lead Chains, tracks Make A Difference and Prodigal have mellow intros with a welcome blend of acoustic and electric guitars. The transitions between verses and choruses are where Blacktop Mojo really stands apart from the masses. These transitions often bring a change in dynamics, tempo, and vocal register to truly immerse you into the songs. And lyrics are a cut above today’s generic radio fodder.
D: Blacktop Mojo employed this “all-in’ philosophy and took their talents to the Sound Emporium Studios in Nashville where luminaries like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kenny Chesney recorded, to name a few. Co-Produced by Philip Mosley and Jimmy Johnson of Muscle Shoals Sound Studios along with revered sound engineer Steve Melton. I personally love the infusion of real emotion and feeling in Burn the Ships. You simply can’t fake passion and it can be captured in a recording!
“Chains” is my personal favorite on this album. Their heaviest track and vocals that soar with a message about being indomitable that fits the intensity.
V: Burn The Ships also includes a cover of Aerosmith’s Dream On. I was apprehensive when the music started, as Dream On is incredibly ambitious to cover, and I’ve heard far too many bands butcher it over the years. However, Blacktop Mojo absolutely knocked me over and nailed this cover! Matt James hit every note flawlessly during the vocal crescendo, and it is musically true to form with a little more modern punch. Best cover version I have heard of this signature classic, and while this will certainly attract attention; it isn’t the highlight of the LP
D: The cover of Aerosmith’s Dream On. Takes balls to even think about covering that tune, but James’ vocals are great and do the song proper justice.
The last track is Underneath and with only an acoustic guitar to accompany his voice, you can clearly hear James’ honesty and sentiment in his lyrics and vocal execution.
Blacktop Mojo composes tunes that are marketable without any contrived attempt to write a “radio” hit. ‘Burn the Ships is loaded with tracks that could easily end up on the radio as a result of passion, desire, feeling, thoughtfulness and musicianship, not any formula. I am an instant fan of Blacktop Mojo and I really believe that Burn the Ships is gonna parley for the guys! Like I say, “Go all in or get out, because half way doesn’t pay.”
V: Production quality is outstanding, providing a massive sound stage. Guitar and vocal layering is flawless, accenting each song without sounding over produced. It’s refreshing to hear a new release that doesn’t sound like it was recorded in a basement with your mother’s Macbook. This is a top quality production with top quality musicians. Very highly recommended.
Thank you Vince and Dean! I appreciate it!