"Revelry and Resilience"

By the Sun Jester

When "Overloaded" kicks off, you should immediately realize that you are in the hands of an unabashed rock band, not some competent outfit that hits all the marks yet never moves a soul, but a collection of likeminded musicians steeped in music that grabs the listener's attention from the first note. There is a strong Thin Lizzy influence here, but it is never so overt that the band veers into parody. A great opener.

The second track is even stronger. "The Fields" opens with a looping guitar and drum battle before launching into the song. The band locks onto a quasi-shuffle groove distinguished by superb rhythm section playing.  "Hedgeking" has a nasty, appealing bluesy bite and muscular guitar riffing. Once again, the drumming drives this band and its energetic power seems to electrify the other musicians. "Hedgeking" features a pair of impressive guitar solos.

 In comparison the previous songs, there's something about "Frostwyrm" that rings hollow. The simplistic melodic elements introduced into the song give it a lightweight feel. If this is an attempt by the band to show another side to their sonic identity, they succeed and deserve applause for the attempt, but it is not a particular side that they do well. The song has an interesting middle section that does not last nearly long enough.  "Galaxy Rise" is a crunching tune full of slashing blues leads and a central, churning riff that hooks itself into the ear. The energy that the band delivers is incredible. If there were nothing else positive to say about them, you will hear their passion and enthusiasm. In a song like this, they manage the impressive feat of sounding inspired and modern while invoking their influences.

The ominous opening to "1345" is an attention grabber, but the resulting song is not nearly as memorable until the guitar solos after the 2:00 mark. The song sounds like a hodgepodge of classic rock poses, for the most part, distinguished largely by the musicianship. Driven once more by a superb rhythm section, "Night Songs from a Desert" is the highlight of the album for me as the band diversifies their sound without losing one ounce of their core spirit. The vocals are particularly good here, dramatic and passionate without descending into cliché.

 The lyrics for "The Red Wedding" are quite exceptional, but the band dilutes the song's potential by crouching it in another up-tempo rocker that fails to rise above the ordinary. "Silver Queen" is a respectable stab at the sort of epic melodic hard rock heard in the 1970's, but the band reigns in their tendency for imitation by not tacking on the requisite tempo shift in the song's second half. This track, like others on the album, demonstrates the band's ability to sound completely modern while clearly invoking their influences.

 "State Lines" is a great rocker with a chaotic, stuttering riff full of energy. It is firmly within the tradition of band "road songs", but it is a respectable entry in the library of songs on that subject. The lead guitar work is worth the price of admission alone.

The band takes a well-intentioned shot at Rick Derringer's classic "Rock and Roll Hoochie-Koo", but while they caught on to the power of the song, they apparently missed the blues and the swing present in the original. In Gypsyhawk's hands, the song is as subtle as a sledgehammer and loses all of the original's goofy charm.