By Dr. Abner Mality

"The Rods should have made it big!" That's the consensus of most metal graybeards regarding the New York power trio. Many felt they regularly blew the Randy Rhoads-equipped Ozzy off the stage during their opening jaunt with Oz back in 1981. But the metal gods are fickle and much like Angelwtich and Tank, the Rods couldn't crack the elusive glass ceiling.

Well, here they are again in 2011 with "Vengeance" and as far as the band's sound goes, very little has changed. These dudes play chugging, sweaty working man's metal emerging from roots like Ted Nugent, AC/DC, Kiss and Sabbath. If I spent the rest of my life trying to come up with more generic song titles than what we get on "Vengeance", I couldn't do it. "Raise Some Hell", "I Just Wanna Rock", "Fight Fire With Fire", "Runnin' Wild"...those are about as well-worn and hoary as you can get. But you know, who really cares when you're rocking hard and jamming to The Rods?!

The smoking guitar skills of "Rock" Feinstein are still the shining light of this band. Not many today know how to let fly with ripping melodic solos based in the blues, but it's easy for Feinstein and even on the leser tracks here, his guitar work is never less than stellar. Wish the same could be said for his vocals, which to put it mildly are very average. That's where The Rods could never match Motorhead...Rock's got a gruff and gravelly tone, but it's just missing something. Feinstein's cousin and former Elf collaborator, the late great Ronnie James Dio, gets to sing on "The Code" and that makes the gap between Ronnie and Rock pretty obvious.

You can't go wrong with biker-ready anthems like "Raise Some Hell", "Rebel's Highway" and the excellent "Let It Ripp". A mid album trio of plodders..."Livin' Outside the Law", "Fight Fire With Fire" and "Madman"...lowers the excitement level before the record ends strongly with the title track.

Hey, The Rods are not suddenly going to claim the metal throne here in 2011, but if you liked their old stuff or if you're just into the mood for ass-kickin' basic metal, they will not let you down.