Kidd Havok were one of those bands that was poised to make some Metal magic until grunge swept the nation, sending everyone to the nearest pharmacy for a healthy dose of Prozac. The band was working hard, developing a pretty decent following in their native Florida. During their early days, the members of Kidd Havok were also recording demos for a future release. Now, so many years later, that debut album is finally available through Suncity Records. Roll the Dice features everything a Glam Metal fan needs and wants: guitar solos and catchy vocals.
Like many up and coming bands, Kidd Havok weathered quite a few member changes. The liner notes for Roll the Dice feature credits for a revolving door of bass players and drummers, with guitarist Scot Marcs and singer Johnny B. remaining constant forces in the band. Today, the Kidd Havok line-up includes Marcs, Johnny B. and Tommy Pinello on bass and Jim McCourt behind the drum kit. Pinnello’s bass playing is featured on many Roll the Dice tracks.
Roll the Dice opens with “Too Sadd” featuring a nice electric guitar/drum combination. The song is very upbeat, setting the tone for the entire work. Immediately, the listener knows this is prime cut, late 80s glam. Entering the scene at the end of Glam craze, Kidd Havok is influenced by Motley Crue, RATT and Poison. It’s pretty easy to notice these influences in every song, but especially on “1 Push.” The riff is very Poison and Pretty Boy Floyd-esque and so are the lyrics. No, Kidd Havok are not reinventing the wheel here, but they are playing music that works for them.
If a radio-friendly chorus is what you are looking for, then “Lady Luck” is probably for you. Yes, the lyrics here rhyme quite a lot, but the layered guitar portions are excellent and eerily reminiscent of Randy Rhodes-era Ozzy Osbourne. In fact, the guitar solos are so good on “Lady Luck” they demand a louder mix. Instead, producer (and ironically guitarist Scot Marcs) opted to leave the vocals more dominant on this track.
“Cold Sweat” is probably the strongest track on Roll the Dice, featuring vocals and guitars closer to Whitesnake than your average Florida bar band. “Cold Sweat” is in your face, stand-up-and-swagger rock n’ roll. Again there is a formula here, but it works, so why complain?
A little bit deeper into Roll the Dice is “Rumors.” Again, a high point of the song is the lengthy guitar sections. Still, vocalist Johnny B. has a pretty good range, and this is evident on “Rumors.” Johnny B. shows his chops on “Candy Store,” too. A frivolous song with some good riffs, Kidd Havok plays to their strong suit which is entertainment first, everything else secondary.
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