Fozzy – Chasing The Grail (2010)
It all started one day in 1999. Professional wrestler Chris Jericho was wrestling at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Rich Ward of Stuck Mojo happened to be at the event and met Jericho backstage. While conversing, they began to discuss their shared love of music and discovered that they had been heavily influenced by many of the same bands. A few months later, Ward invited Jericho to sing with a cover band he had started, and Fozzy was born.
Upon signing a record deal, Ward and Jericho decided that they should do something to differentiate themselves from other cover bands and decided to develop a “Spinal Tap” sort of backstory. The members of the band adopted characters and acted as if the songs they covered were actually their own songs, but the songs had been stolen from them while they had been exiled from America due to a record deal gone wrong. The label took the story and ran with it, filming a 30 minute “mockumentary” which aired on MTV and received rave reviews. Then in October of 2000, the band released it’s self-titled debut that consisted primarily of covers. The last two songs on the album were originals. Fozzy sounded exactly like what they were on that first album…nothing more than a mediocre cover band.
When the band began work on their second album, they had determined that they wanted to progress as a band and worked diligently toward that end. Happenstance was released in 2002, consisting of half covers and half originals. They gained much more notoriety, particularly in Europe. Longing to be taken seriously, the band dropped their storyline.
Fozzy’s third album, All That Remains, was released in 2005. This was the their first collection of all original material, and it was good enough to make the metal world pay attention. Fozzy wasn’t a joke anymore. With this album came confirmation that Fozzy might just have what it takes to become a force to be reckoned with.
Fast forward to 2010 and the release of Chasing The Grail. Fozzy has returned with a fire-breathing vengeance, and there can no longer be any doubt – this band is the real deal. While traces of influences such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest still exist, Fozzy succeeds in making the music their own. From start to finish, the album is energetic and aggressive, incorporating thick guitar riffs, bludgeoning drums, and vocals that deliver ferocity and melody in tandem.
Chasing The Grail is undeniably complex, blending components of both arena and melodic rock, and even taking a progressive turn at the end of the album. The first track, “Under Blackened Skies,” is a double-barreled, relentless, inflammatory assault on your speakers and sets the stage for what’s to come. It’s followed by “Martyr No More,” a heavy yet melodious rock anthem which was used as the theme song for WWE’s 2010 Royal Rumble. “Grail” is next and is my pick for best song on the album. The drum work is literally mind-blowing; Frank Fontsere’s skills on the kit are beyond astounding. The song is purely addictive.
“Broken Soul” is the album’s sole ballad. The guitar riffs give the song an ’80’s feel. Jericho’s vocals are reminiscent of Ozzy, and the band backs him with very tight harmonies. “Let The Madness Begin” follows with a thrashy, powerful groove. “Pray For Blood”….I don’t even know where to start! This song is pummeling, and true metalheads will LOVE it. From a musical standpoint, the song is more than technically sound. After hearing it, Fozzy’s musicianship is simply undeniable. Oh, did I mention that Frank Fontsere is a drum god?!?!
Next is “New Day’s Dawn.” This is my least favorite song on the album. It has a very strange feel. It seriously sounds like something that Adam Lambert would sing, and it makes me feel like I’m listening to a soundtrack from a vampire movie. Thankfully, things pick back up with “God Pounds His Nails” and “Watch Me Shine,” a couple of straight-up hard rock songs, the latter of which is quite melodic.
Metalheads, rejoice!! “Paraskavedekatriaphobia (Friday The 13th)” is riddled with speed metal at its finest. “Revival” is a magnificent, heavy song with complex sounds and crafty key-changes. The final song, “Wormwood,” is a 14 minute progressive rock song composed of more elements than you can imagine….from acoustic guitars to a Hammond organ to a rousing chorus that brings the pain, it is nothing short of amazing.
I first listened to Fozzy because I was a fan of Chris Jericho, and I found the band’s “backstory” to be amusing. I’m listening to Fozzy now and will continue to do so because they’ve just put out a damn good rock album. If the grail equates to rock superiority, Fozzy can stop chasing – they’ve already captured it.
Welcome to the big leagues, boys!!
Rating on Dee’s How Hard Does It Rock Scale: Out of 10
1. Under Blackened Skies
2. Martyr No More
4. Broken Soul
5. Let The Madness Begin
6. Pray For Blood
7. New Day’s Dawn
8. God Pounds His Nails
9. Watch Me Shine
10. Paraskavedekatriaphobia (Friday The 13th)
Chris Jericho – Vocals
Rich Ward – Guitar
Sean Delson – Bass
Frank Fontsere – Drums