The Appice brothers. They should be a household name at this point having been involved in some of rock n’ roll’s greatest and most influential acts and lived to tell some of its most legendary tales (Seek out Carmine’s infamous Led Zeppelin mudshark fiasco if you haven’t already). Blue Murder, Dio, Cactus, Black Sabbath, Vanilla Fudge, Ozzy Osbourne… I could go on for hours listing the accomplishments of Vinny and Carmine, but if you don’t know anything about these two at this point I suggest you just accept your fate as a know-nothing plebe and do what you can to get right with these icons. So, after decades of plying their trades these legendary percussive journeymen have decided to release an album uniting their talents and culling influences from their respective bands.
Sinister is the first album where their abilities converge to craft a document that is heavily immersed in the Blue Murder-Black Sabbath-Dio-King Kobra camps. With a solid-as-hell supporting cast made up of Bumblefoot, Tony Franklin (ex-Blue Murder), Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake), Mick Sweda (Bulletboys), Johnny Rod (ex-WASP), Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt), Craig Goldy (ex-Dio), Robin McCauley (MSG), and a slew of other highly capable players, there’s marvelous talent filling every nook and cranny of this record. Everything on this album is done with class. The guitar playing is tasteful and memorable, the bass lines are thick and rich, and the vocals are top notch. The main focal point of the album is the drums and they’re positively fabulous supported by a production that is phenomenal with a crisp and clear sound that brings every little nuance to the forefront. The brothers play in syncopation for the most part and there’s never a time when things seem muddy, mashed, or forced. Both Vinny and Carmine showcase their respective styles and influences beautifully throughout the album.
Just listen to the tracks Drum Wars and War Cry and you’ll hear what I mean. We even get a Dio tribute in Monsters and Heroes with Paul Shortino lending his vocal prowess that respects Ronnie’s incomparable voice. Danger, Suddenly, and Killing Floor carry the bluesy hard rock flag that will quench your thirst for something akin to Blue Murder’s self-titled masterpiece. Hell, Carmine even throws on a cover of Riot from that legendary album which, although not as great as the original due to the lack of Sykes, still jams hard and pays perfect homage to the original version. We’re even given a taste of Carmines’ vocal ability on You Got Me Running, a tune that harkens back to his days in Cactus with guitar riffage that would make Jim McCarty proud.
Do I have any gripes with this album? Sure, but only a couple. Namely the title track, Sinister, and Sabbath Mash both of which are bookended on the album and are hella forgettable. Not that they’re absolutely dreadful, but they’re nowhere near as strong as the rest of the album and quickly fade into the realm of the unnecessary. The title track itself is a tad bit disjointed with a few interesting parts, but should’ve either been included as a later track or left off the album entirely. Either way it doesn’t warrant being a leadoff track. Sabbath Mash is just not needed all together. Boasting a mash-up of several Sab standards, one could easily turn on their local rock radio station and I can guarantee you some DJ is spinning a Sabbath greatest hits album on shuffle play. It’s not that the mash-up itself is all that dreadful. It’s just that I don’t need a rehash of Iron Man, Paranoid, or War Pigs filtered through the Appice brothers. They could’ve easily included another original track in its stead, or at the very least chose some Sabbath tracks we all haven’t heard a million times over. It simply didn’t work for me.
All in all I was admittedly a tad bit apprehensive about this album at first. Not that I doubt the talents of these two legends, but it had the possibility of coming off as more of a novelty or just flat-out mailed in rather than something truly genuine. However, after immersing myself in this I can honestly say that I’m happy to be proven wrong. Final assessment: It’s a helluva lot of fun. The tunes are solid as a rock and it’s great to see and hear two legends unite their talents to give the fans something truly cool. Well done, fellas.
02. Monsters And Heroes
03. Killing Floor
05. Drum Wars
08. In The Night
09. Future Past
10. You Got Me Running
11. Bros In Drums
12. War Cry
13. Sabbath Mash
Lineup and guests
Carmine Appice (drums, vocals)
Vinny Appice (drums)
Jim Crean (vocals)
Paul Shortino (vocals) (ROUGH CUTT, ex-QUIET RIOT)
Robin McAuley (vocals) (MSG)
Chas West (vocals) (ex-LYNCH MOB)
Scotty Bruce (vocals)
Craig Goldy (guitar) (ex-DIO, ex-GIUFFRIA)
Bumblefoot (guitar) (ex-GUNS N’ ROSES)
Joel Hoekstra (guitar) (WHITESNAKE)
Mike Sweda (guitar) (BULLETBOYS)
Erik Turner (guitar) (WARRANT)
David Michael Phillips (guitar) (KING KOBRA)
Tony Franklin (bass) (ex-BLUE MURDER, ex-THE FIRM)
Phil Soussan (bass) (ex-OZZY OSBOURNE)
Johnny Rod (bass) (KING KOBRA, ex-W.A.S.P.)
Jorgen Carlson (bass) (GOV’T MULE)