Release Date: August 1, 2011
Who the hell is DC4? That’s the question that jumped to my lips when I opened up my mail to discover their third CD, Electric Ministry. After playing the disc I then pondered how’d I’d never heard of them before. Praise be and let the education of my rock and roll soul begin.
Los Angeles based DC4 began at the turn of the millennium with the brothers Duncan, Jeff (vox/guitars), Matt (bass) and Shawn (drums), who rounded out the band with former Dio axe-slinger Rowan Robertson. You might remember Rowan as the 17-year-old guitar prodigy that replaced Craig Goldy on the Dio‘s Lock Up The Wolves album in 1990. The same year, coincidentally, that Jeff Duncan replaced the recently deceased David Pritchard as Armored Saint’s guitarist.
While the band’s previous record, 2007’s Explode, carried more of a 90’s flavor, Electric Ministry brings back a more guitar-oriented classic hard rock vibe, which Rowan acknowledges was their intent. “We made a point of making Electric Ministry a real guitar album. Back to our roots as guitarists. I think on our last album Explode we still had a bit of that ’90s feel in us so we’ve gotten rid of that now.”
DC4 recently signed a European deal with Metal Blade records, and Electric Ministry is the band’s first release under the new deal. It also marks the first time the band’s had special guests on an album. Long time friend Bill Metoyer (Armored Saint, Slayer, W.A.S.P., Fates Warning) jumped at the chance to co-produce Electric Ministry, and his presence alone pushes DC4 into a heavier direction.
The album starts off with the disconcerting instrumental intro, “Wrecktory”, which sounds like a bug-zapper gone awry or a bad experiment in Frankenstein’s lab. Still it has that “Diary of a Madman” vibe one can’t help but appreciate. Once that ends the band kicks it into high gear with the title cut. Jeff throws his arms wide, preaching to the crowd, “Welcome to the alter of conviction…”. “Electric Ministry” reminds me of an early Van Halen meets W.A.S.P. anthem. I could definitely hear the spirit of Blackie Lawless on the rhythms and breakdown, intentional or otherwise.
In fact, the entire album has that feel of late 70’s early 80’s hard rock and metal. Moments that hark back to Ozzy, Priest, Dio and more. Through it all Jeff Duncan’s voice recalls a ballsier version of a young David Lee Roth.
The track “XXX” revels in our obsession with pornography and all elements of prurient interests, while “Rock God” takes a tongue-in-cheek stab rock idolatry of talentless idiots. Judas Priest style riffage opens “25 To Life” while “Broken Soul” taps a Dio influence.
Matt Duncan’s wicked bass groove is the centerpiece of the rocker, “People”, while DC4 shows its 80’s swagger on “Glitter Girl” and gets its aggression out on “Sociopath.”
Guns N’ Roses keyboardist Dizzy Reed lays his keys down on the album’s two ballads, “Dirty Hands” and “The Ballad Of Rock and Roll”. The latter of which also features a cameo from another Duncan, cousin Eric. Armored Saint’s Gonzo Sandoval throws some of his percussive talents down on “Dirty Hands”, “Broken Soul” and the east Indian flavored album closer, “Translucent Life”.
In all, Electric Ministry is a heavy dose of in-your-face rock and roll of the old school, played with a modern edge, by dynamic musicians. The songs are well-crafted, and they grow on you with each listen. If there is a downside to be found here it’s that the songs don’t seem to linger in the head. You listen, you rock, you forget about them until the next time you throw the disc on. Still, Electric Ministry offers a taste of what this quartet has to offer, and the future is paved in promise.