George Lynch's latest solo offering had a strange 'start stop' birth, written and recorded over both ten days and two years: ten days for the initial writing and track building, but then all that extra time swapping vocalists and rewriting. It shows: 'Kill All Control' feels like all the parts have been worried at and rejigged so often that all the catchy bits have rubbed smooth, leaving nothing left to snag your attention.
Pity, as Lynch has assembled a solid group to wring out his songs, with London LeGrand (Brides of Destruction), Will Marten (Earshot), Marq Torien (Bulletboys) and Keith St. John (Montrose) sharing shouting duties across the 13 tracks. The good news is that he's also brought some of his best axemanship to the game; but more of that later.
First, let's be frank: on a songwriting level, much of what's on here is pretty turgid stuff. It starts well with the solid title track, a zippy little agit-rock number that's borrowed some pop nous from the Offspring and bolted gravel and steel onto it until the melody is thoroughly encased in rawk armour. But from then, there's a lot of sliding downhill. 'Done' is largely forgettable, and the hysterically overproduced 'Fly on the Wall' is like a closing credits tune accompanying the most lamentable 80s Bond-alike action slop. In fact, this backwards looking approach is evident throughout, from the hair-metal aping harmonies to the fact that some of the guitar sounds are simply...well...old fashioned.
Not that there aren't highlights. 'Wicked Witch' is a welcome change of pace and mood, and builds to a truly imaginative instrumental climax that writhes and jitters in every direction but the one you're expecting; and Lynch consistently does more with his rhythm playing than simply hammering out power chords. But it's not enough when the songs – lyrically and emotionally - are so risible that verses and choruses are simply things to be endured until you can hear Lynch unleash himself on the fretboard. Neither fun nor furious, it's all on one grinding, grey level: 'a bleeding heart that screams in pain!' bellows Will Martin on 'Voices in My Head', and it's hard not to feel the same way.
Now, you could argue that this is simply a genre album, and a good example of it, but that doesn't really cut it when the man himself speaks of trying to move his sound forward. It's to his credit that he recognises a lot of shred bands were 'pretty stupid and terrible', as he told musicradar.com, but there's simply nothing here that will make people stand still and pay attention - and if you're as skilled as Lynch, nothing less than using your talent to the best possible effect should satisfy you. 'Kill All Control' smacks of a difficult birth and unfulfilled ambitions, but the self-styled Mr Scary can really play – and once he's happy with the material he's got, the results will be terrifying for his peers. For now, though, the wait continues.
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