"Under a Wild Sky" (Frontiers/Now & Then; 2000)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Until the release of "Brutal Planet," it could be said that "Raise Your Fist & Yell" was Alice Cooper's heaviest recording to date. A lot of that heaviness had to do with the presence of guitarist Kane Roberts, whose machine-gun shaped guitar made fireworks not only through its hidden pyrotechnic devices but through the talent of Roberts himself. Roberts played a hard-hitting, heavy-metal kind of guitar, tip-toeing into "shred" territory but never quite stepping over the line.

Of course, Roberts later released a couple of solo albums, his self-titled release which wasn't bad but didn't set any sales records, and its follow-up, "Twisted," which ventured far past even slick, Bon Jovi radio anthem territory.

Now, Roberts appears to be the mastermind behind Phoenix Down and their new CD, "Under a Wild Sky." Roberts wrote or co-wrote every song on the album, not to mention plays guitars and provides vocals.

"Under the Wild Sky" sounds like the album that would have naturally come between Roberts' first and second solo albums. It's got a definite 80s, hard rock feel but it's better written, played and produced than his self-titled CD and not as over-produced and slick as "Twisted." It's a solid rock record that seems to have stepped out from another era. And that's a good thing considering the current resurgence of melodic metal and hard rock. Fans of bands such as Axe, Norway and, yes, Bon Jovi will love "Under a Wild Sky." 

Fans of Slayer, Rob Zombie and Slipknot will frigging hate it. But that's their loss. "Under a Wild Sky" is exactly what fans of melodic 80s rock'n'roll are looking for.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright 2006 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 28 Aug 2022 15:32:20 -0400 .