LECHEROUS GAZE

"One Fifteen" (Tee Pee Records; 2017)

Reviewed by Josh "Spudbeast" Bolton

This is your dad’s Lecherous Gaze – and I don’t mean that as a knock. Graham Clise and company return with their third full-length album, “One Fifteen,” the follow-up to 2014’s “Zeta Reticuli Blues.” Between the likes of Annihilation Time and the two other Gaze albums, this is the farthest that they have strayed off their stylings, but they manage to keep their nearly indefinable identity that lies somewhere between Ted Nugent and Black Flag.

There’s obviously a very sci-fi influence on "One Fifteen," from the gorgeous Frank Frazetta album cover to the song titles that sound like pulp novels.
By far the most laid back album of their discography, "One Fifteen" opens with the title track sounding like Roy Orbison five days into a week-long bender. With the sci-fi theme, the 50s rock vibe locks right there thematically. “Reptile Minds” is next, and it channels so well the Cold War anxiety that was wrapped into so many science fiction films from the era; from the frantic riffing to the ominous announcement of Earth’s Destruction tagged on at the end of the chorus.

“Cosmos Redshift 7” continues the theme telling of an ill-fated space flight. Good riffs, and some impressive drum work throughout. It leads up to the first single from the album, “Thing Within,” and demonstrates vocalist Zaryan Zaidi’s charcoal-laced bellows that have become as much of an identifier of Lecherous Gaze as well as Clise’s guitar work. The guitar tone on this track is also notable; it somehow manages to feel distant but without losing any of its stance in the song. “The Day the Earth Caught Fire” brings the album closer to the more familiar Lecherous Gaze sound – spastic riffage, powerful chorus, solid rhythm section, and of course some shredding.

“Dark Nebula” is an acoustic ambient interlude. It caught me off-guard the first time, but it fits well, sets the atmosphere and breaks up the album between another heavy track “Malevolent Shroud.” “Shroud” might be my favorite song on the album; it has everything. It’s like a bridging point between the Gaze’s stylistic changes. Heavy as hell but with keyboard interludes and support; particularly how the song tapers off down a black hole. The lyrics are also pretty damn creepy here, solidifying the strong sci-fi theme.

“Blind Swordsman” opens with a clean intro and is a melodic, smooth driving track that showcases Zaryan Zaidi’s vocals. It reminds me of a distorted Bard’s tale, and is another highlight on this album. Closing out "One Fifteen" is “X City,” an upbeat fast jam. Lots of breakdowns and impressive rhythm work from Chris and Noel. We also get I think the longest solo on the album that lead’s into some more electronic ambience that drifts away like a flying saucer.

With "One Fifteen," the Gaze delivers yet again. It’s a different album, not the shred-fest that was "On the Skids" nor the sludgy, bluesy wickedness of "Zeta Reticuli Blues," but "One Fifteen" is a cosmic road trip through space and time to the galaxy’s most infamous dive bar where Lecherous Gaze has eternal residency.

Top Tracks: “Thing Within," “Malevolent Shroud."

For more information, check out http://www.lecherousgaze.com.

"On the Skids" (Tee Pee Records; 2012)

Reviewed by Josh "Spudbeast" Bolton

At the dawn of the 21st Century, a meteorite composed of equal parts of the heavy elements Black Sabbath and Black Flag crashed into a California whiskey distillery. From the smoldering bourbon-soaked wreckage rose Annihilation Time. They waged a secret war across the land, claiming the hearts of punks and metal heads alike into a cult following. I was one who was swayed by the musical enchantment. I practically lived in an Annihilation Time hoodie in high school. I replaced the jewel case on my CD Copy of "II" more than once. I bought "III: Tales of the Ancient Age" the day it came out. So when they unceremoniously split with the departure of vocalist Jimmy Rose, many were crushed throughout the realm.

Okay, okay. Enough nostalgic pity-partying about one of my favorite all-time bands. Annihilation Time mastermind Graham Clise righted the travesty by releasing the full-length debut from his subsequent band, Lecherous Gaze. Formed from the backbone of Annihilation Time with bassist Chris Grande and drummer Noel Sullivan, and the arrival of vocalist Zaryan Zaidi from barn-blasters Char-Man, the Gaze’s expectations for “On the Skids” were high.

From the first note of “Lyin’ in the Road,” it’s clear the spirit of Annihilation Time is not only alive but augmented as well. Clise’s already formidable riff work is flawless, and the rhythm of Grande and Sullivan is tighter than ever. Zaidi’s vocal work was the only question mark I had going into this album and then he snarled his way into the first verse and right to home. A mid-paced first song, “Lyin’ in the Road,” delivers a solid slab of refined proto-punk.

For the sophomore track, the frantic “Scorpion” is a faster, harder hitting song with some phenomenal fills by Clise and with Zaidi channeling a “Love It To Death”-era Alice Cooper. As melodic and haunting as is rocking, “Scorpion” is helping define the Gaze’s style.

A Descendents-esque riff opens up “Bagagzo,” and transitions seamlessly from the chunky punk riff into a Thin Lizzy anthem. It’s a jaw-dropping song complete with one of the best guitar solos I have ever heard. As good as Graham Clise is at monster riffs and finger-cutting solos, his biggest strength is the build-up. Everything played here is played for a reason, there’s a plan behind this. He makes you anticipate every next note and always hits the next one you were hoping for. “Bagagzo” highlights this strength so well, and is the star among stars on an album full of them.

“Frustrated” channels some of the leftover Annihilation Time left in the group, a killer riff in the vein of The Stooges and a solid vocal performance highlight this track. Some sweet fuzzy goodness introduces the next track courtesy of Chris Grande’s bass. The slow-chugging “Born on a River” has the air of Thin Lizzy’s elegant vagrancy to it. A good cool-down track to let us breathe right in the middle of the album.

“Ravenous” is just that; ravenous. The guitar sounds starving and panicking throughout the song and the vocals are angry. Another highlight solo ties up this track well; the song also loops together well after the solo.

 A filthy riff opens up “War Woman,” and this song highlights the story-telling capabilities of Lecherous Gaze. The song is epic in scale, and really gives Zaidi a chance to show a solid range of vocals from spoken word to his trademark snarl to shouts of warning. “Passion Flower” scales it back it bit, coming off like a possessed Big Bopper fronting an undead Link Wray.

“Lucifera” is another story-telling experience that plays like a hard rock comic book story, with smooth melodies and dynamic vocals to accompany the extinction of mankind. “The Grasp” wraps up the album’s final true song, and is heavy as hell. Zaidi’s vocals are most powerful here, commanding with authority and urgency the warning of getting caught in something’s grasp. Hard hitting and spooky, “The Grasp” tightens the album’s end up.

 The smooth, melodic instrumental outro, “Redeemer,” finishes the album off. Coincidentally, “Redeemer” would have been a great name for the album as well, as it redeemed the void left by Annihilation Time’s absence. The Gaze are absolutely a worthy successor to AT, and are one of the most talented and underappreciated bands out there at the moment. “On The Skids” is one of those rare albums that is a complete package. Sure, I favor some songs over others, but there’s not a bad song on the album.

Discovering Lecherous Gaze is kind of like discovering a hobo under a bridge: they’re dirty and hard, probably a little drunk, but they can tell you an awesome story and give you a good song or two. Do not miss this record.

For more information, check out http://www.lecherousgaze.com.

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 © 2017 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 12 Feb 2017 13:05:51 -0500.