Review by Gary Spiller for MPM
Firebrand six-stringer Troy Redfern, hailing from the Welsh Marches, pounds into post-lockdown action in indomitable incendiary fashion with the release of the highly vaunted long-player “The Fire Cosmic” by Red7 Records on Friday 6th August.
Following hot on the heels of a scintillatingly spellbinding performance at Love Rocks IV Redfern – deservedly lauded as “The King of slide guitar in the British music media – sends conflagrant sparks flying as he scorches up the freeway with this release. Ahead of a major 11 date British tour, across the second half of September, as special guest to the mahoosively monumental Californian rock n’ soulers Robert Jon & The Wreck this planetary-sized release is a preeminent statement of comburent intent.
Redfern attacks with a ferocious earthy slide that overlies an engaging blues-rock groove; a packed arsenal that is utilised to the maximal and is fully enhanced with a stellar rhythm section comprised of Darby Todd (The Darkness, Martin Barre, Devin Townsend, Gary Moore) pounding the drumskins and virtuoso bassist Dave Marks (Hans Zimmer, Rick Parfitt, Carl Palmer, Albert Lee). Illustrious guitarist Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal (Guns n’ Roses, Asia, Sons of Apollo) pops up a track mid-way through the album too.
All this cosmogonal musical stature was assembled together and recorded within the fabled environs of Rockfield Studios, North Wales – where such rock n’ roll luminaries of the aristocratic ilk of Queen, Black Sabbath and Mott The Hoople have laid down classic output.
For production duties the skills of Paul ‘Win’ Winstanley were enlisted with Redfern having worked with him previously upon the RHR album ‘Hotel Toledo’.
“It was important for the album to sound massive,” says Troy. “It was a much bigger sound than anything that I’ve released before. As soon as we heard the ﬁrst takes in the control, we were blown away. We knew that we captured something special. It sounded fantastic.”
Rockfield’s retro gear was used with dynamic results; its vintage mics, mixing desk, and analogue outboard gear gave Win options to capture the dynamic performances on the album. “It was like being a kid in a candy store,” says Win.
The final polish came in the form of Frank Arkwright (Biffy Clyro, Iggy Pop, System of a Down) who mastered the album at Abbey Road. Redfern expands “With all the hard work that went into getting this album to sound as great as possible, there was only one option when it came to mastering. The mastering at Abbey Road added that ﬁnal sheen. Frank did an absolutely amazing job in bringing out every nuance of the recording.”
Album opener ‘Scorpio’ stomps in pushing the metaphorical pedal to the metal; its combustive mannerisms with a souped up V8-rockabilly beat lavished over a blues-rock edged undercurrent will have Danish fusionists Volbeat salivating. It’s a dirty, gritty, grime encrusted high-octane guzzling beast of a dragster; the perfect machine when you have the blue lights on your tail and you’re heading south for the border.
Redfern snarls “It’s sure time to burn, now the tables have turned”; the barbs are firmly lodged and as the six-strings delightfully wail atop a swirling beat there’s no escaping the infectious snare.
The first single off this album ‘Waiting For Your Love’ went down an absolute storm upon its release in May rightly garnering rave reviews right across the board.
Set upon its unrelenting, steam-rollering course by the array of cogent, thundering beats from Todd’s vintage Ludwig Vistalite drums this three and half minutes of swashbuckling blues boogie rollercoasts along via steep, rocking gradients clearly defined by the oh-so-sweet lines of Redfern’s 1929 National Triolian steel guitar voraciously entwining about the steamhammer bass vigorously delivered by Marks.
The ice-cold sweats induced leave one begging for more as Redfern growls “Ain’t got no preacher coming through my door.” Atop all of this wonder is Redfern’s slide guitar which further elevates proceedings; cosmic indeed.
Out and out rocker ‘One Way Ticket’ shakes, rattles and rolls its way through a near four minutes of profoundly lubricated blues-fringed diamond tipped swagger. Encapsulating gravelly slide and a slick-as-you-like solo that go hand in had with a highly-contagious chorus Redfern and his cohorts offer something quite different.
There’s more than a nod back to the late 80s here to the degree this head-nodding, foot tapper of a rocker could sit most agreeably upon the likes of Cinderella’s ‘Long Cold Winter’ album.
Proceedings are notched back a little with the teriffically blues laden rocker ‘Love & War’. There’s a tangible doff of the trademark hat to the likes of Gary Moore and Eric Clapton hidden within the expansive translucent crystalline solos that soar high above the arid, arenaceous plains that the gritty vocals dwell upon in an euphonious juxtaposition.
Featuring the subliminal talents of Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal searing a scorched passage as his trademark rabble-rousing double neck guitar exhales a pyromaniacal breath ‘On Fire’ seizes a darker, tempestuous edge. This is the raw animal energy of the mythical beasts that are purported to stalk the highest peaks of the moors; this is the very fury of the hell hounds that run from Dartmoor’s Whistman’s Wood upon the storm-lashed night. Now upon that tempest one can hear Redfern’s howling strings and rasping vocals carry on the gale.
The second half of the album gets underway with the funky, southern-laced licks of ‘Lay That Love Down’ as the storm prior passes. Imagine a melding of Lenny Kravitz and The Black Crowes and one is transported into the arena this tune inhabits; it’s an unexpected turn and all the more welcome for it. Redfern’s sand-paper rough vocals implore “Lay that love down on me” in a pleasant contrast to an overall summery vibrancy that resonated throughout.
Second single ‘Ghosts’ was written on a beat up 1929 National Triolian Resonator and follows a character that first appeared in the song ‘The Line’ from Troy’s previous album ‘Dirt Blues Ritual’. Troy explains, “To me this song is part two to The Line. It’s the same woman in the narrative of that song. She’s escaped from a destructive, violent relationship, and is riding into the sunset, never once looking back.”
The chilled relax continues and this sensitive number is a beautiful ebb of the musical tide replete with affectional, heartwarming slide guitar. A delicious Americana feel throughout takes the listener along for the journey, with a steam train beat, across the plains and through the foothills of that distant mountain range.
The lyrics, impassionately delivered, “When love is gone, only ghosts of memories remain” leave the listener left wondering the fate of this lady and hoping the very best for her. Such is the powerful story-telling within that harks, in its very heart, to the song-craft of such names as Cash and Springsteen.
As the fingers of dawn spread their light across the land, chasing away the shadows of the night so the gentle, serene, laid-back Beatles-esque tones of ‘Saving Grace’ provide the soundtrack; harken to the acoustic notes upon the morning airs. Deep, meaningful lyrics are emotionally delivered atop this rootsy blues foundation; “Tides rising, breaking waves on a soul” resonates.
Matters are cranked upwards in a forceful foot-stomping manner with the raging currents of the blues-billy boogie of ‘Sanctify’. Selecting elements of the album thus far and throwing them into the collective melting pot this track boils over in a powerful but controlled style with Marks’ thundering hooves bassline and Todd’s hard as nails rocking beats perfectly complementing Redfern’s snarling vocals and ambrosial six-stringing.
Structural destruction is underway as the words “The walls are falling down like Jericho” eminate from the speakers. There’s a hint of San Diego alt-rock n’ rollers Rocket From the Crypt’s ‘On A Rope’ caroming about here.
Closing track ‘Stone’ wraps up this fine long-player in a befitting anthemic manner; gentle yet penecontemporaneously powerful this is an absolute masterpiece. From the wavering notes of the intro to the atmospheric piano keys of the fading outro this six minutes exudes utter marvel.
There are echoes of Pantera’s classy re-working of Sabbath’s ‘Planet Caravan’ herein but it’s undeniably Redfern as he precisely captures the high rising moment as the eagle takes to the wing. Tears of pure joy well up; such are the raw emotions. Those final notes are Marks playing Rockfield’s iconic Bohemian Rhapsody piano; this eptimises the overall majesty of this utterly regal ten tracker that Redfern has despatched.
Great things await this humble blues-rocker for sure; this release will surely provide the springboard to a thoroughly deserved higher level.
Catch Troy on the forthcoming Robert Jon & The Wreck tour in September and as special guest to Wille & The Bandits 26 date ‘When The World Stood Still’ tour in March / April 2022.