"Critical Hits"

By Colonel Angus

Gygax is a new band that rose from the ashes of Gypsyhawk.  I’m not familiar with either band but ultimately, the history doesn’t matter.  What matters is the current release and "Critical Hits" is quite an enjoyable record.  The band are not breaking any new ground but what they do, they do really well.  They took a good ol’ rock template, added plenty of Thin Lizzy style guitars harmonies, and finished it off with a vocal that is not too far off the recently departed Lemmy (from Motorhead).  You would think with that mix you could not lose, but many before have tried and failed.  Gygax seems to have the right recipe because they write good songs that draw off of those influences without ripping them off.  Sure, “Draw Breath” could be a long lost Thin Lizzy gem but as I mentioned earlier, they are not inventing a new genre within rock or metal.  The same can be said for “Liliana” but I like that things change up a bit in other parts of the disk.  “Chain Lightning” has a Van Halen feel and some of the guitar work on “The Rope of  Shadow” has Ritchie Blackmore written all over it.  Overall, "Critical Hits" has a predominantly Thin Lizzy sound but I like that other influences creep in there and that is what makes this album a winner in my book.

In keeping with the tradition of bass/vocals al la Thin Lizzy and Motorhead, Eric Harris handling those duties admirably.  While the vocals have a definite Lemmy sound, there is a little Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) thrown in there for good measure.  Bryant Throckmorton and Armond John Lizzy supply the guitars and as far as I’m concerned they are as potent a team as Robertson/Gorham.  The riffs and harmonies are melodic, catchy, and most of all, memorable.  Gygax is rounded off by Justin Dempsey on drums who with Harris, provides a tight rhythm section that not only creates a solid foundation for the songs to build upon but also helps “gallop” the songs along.  Since Thin Lizzy (and now sadly Motorhead) no longer exist, Gygax is a great band to fill that void.  "Critical Hits" is a great start and I look forward to the next release by these guys.