Ladies and gentlemen, Molly Hatchet is back. Not that they ever left, but my point is simply that Justice rocked me to the core like I haven’t been rocked since Devil’s Canyon. All of the records in between were good, but Justice is great.
Beginning with “Been to Heaven, Been to Hell,” Hatchet comes out kicking with blazing guitars from Bobby Ingram and Dave Hlubek, killer keyboards from John Galvin, smoking bass from former Lynyrd Skynyrd member Tim Lindsey, super heavy drums from Shawn Beamer and the unmistakable whiskey soaked vocal dynamics of lead singer Phil McCormack.
The second song may be one of my favorites. “Safe in My Skin" is an excellent tune that just rocks from start to finish. Fact is, the songwriting team of Ingram and McCormack outdid themselves this go round.
The melodic lead solos of “Deep Water” are the stuff I dream of at night. Southern Rock is alive and well, fellow babies. In fact, the whole record is filled with creative musical bombast that begs for repeat plays.
One true highlight of the album is the heartfelt “ Fly On Wings of Angels (Somer’s Song),” a deeply personal song for the little Jacksonville, Florida girl who was abducted and murdered by a 24-year old child predator in 2009. The beautiful song features a soaring lead guitar from Ingram and breathtaking piano from Galvin.
The song that follows, “As Heaven is Forever” is another good one, spotlighting the vocal skills of McCormack on a tune that, like the track that proceeds it, shows the softer side of Hatchet. Another pretty song that would do well on radio.
“Tomorrows and Forevers” jumps back into the harder rocking Molly, while still maintaining a pop vibe reminiscent of the best 38 Special song, while “Vengeance” begins with thunder and lightning and haunting keyboards and builds to a seriously rocking tune that goes to eleven. It actually reminds me of a cross between KISS and Alice Cooper. I dig it.
The title track “Justice” closes out a set that will rock your socks off with a coda at the end reminicent of all the great Southern Rock anthems, a smoking guitar workout. I am convinced this album could easily be made into a rock opera.This is everything we love about Molly Hatchet, all wrapped up in one album. Don’t miss it.
- Michael Buffalo Smith
PS: Also avaiable is a high grade vinyl double album set that really rocks. The warm analog sound sent me reeling back to the good ol' days when LPs were the choice musical medium. I vote for an all out vinyl comeback.
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