Release Date: February 28, 2012
In late February, UFO will release a brand new studio album entitled Seven Deadly, the follow-up to 2009?s The Visitor. This CD continues in a bluesy fashion similar to that of The Visitor, but brings back the heavier sound of UFO’s previous two records to feature current guitarist Vinnie Moore, who’s handled guitar duties for the band since 2004?s You Are Here. The CD also features Phil Mogg on vocals, Andy Parker on drums, Paul Raymond on keys and rhythm guitar, along with German bassist Lars Lehmann.
Phil Mogg, the voice of UFO for 43 years, continues to show that some things, and people, just get better with age. Phil’s always been an amazing vocalist, and this album is no exception. Phil’s got an unmistakable voice, and it’s one of the best, most underrated in the history of hard rock music. Just as is true with the music, the vocals have a much bluesier quality to them, and I’ve no doubt Phil will be able to nail it all note for note when UFO takes to the stage on their spring tour of Europe, and on the Monsters of Rock cruise later this Winter. Just like a good Scotch, Phil’s voice gets smoother with age and time.
Before we get to the track-by-track, a couple of quick observations. First, I didn’t notice much in the way of Paul Raymond’s keyboard playing, which leads me to wonder if he’s sticking primarily to rhythm guitar on this record. Second, several tracks have a good deal of female backing vocal. Sometimes, in harder-edged rock, the back-up singers take away from the song or try to cover something up. Not the case at all in this one. Finally, know that the lyrical imagery I convey is strictly my opinion as a fan and a reviewer and is based solely on my own personal interpretation of the lyrics on this CD. Having not seen much press on this CD, I have no idea what Phil Mogg’s inspirations for these tracks were, and apologize in advance to the band if I miss the mark on any of these. Misrepresenting one of my all-time favorite bands is definitely not the goal with this review. I feel quite honored, in fact, to be writing about an upcoming release from what is, in my opinion, the best hard rock band to have ever come out.
Seven Deadly starts out with the track “Fight Night”. A great hard rocker to open up the record. Musically, this song has a very cool vibe to it. Straight-ahead hard rock with a very melodic bridge. Phil’s vocals and Vinnie’s lead break make this song something that should appeal to any fan of good hard rock. If you’re new to UFO’s music, if you’re a fan of Buckcherry and other such bands, this song should appeal to you; there’s no reason not to like it.
“Wonderland” is one of those tracks that makes you want to crank the stereo up full blast, open the windows, and share the greatness of UFO’s hard-driving rock with your neighbors, or the entire block. Lyrically, I admit I’m not quite sure where Phil’s going with this one, but no one ever said rock ‘n’ roll had to make sense, right? This is one of those that you take for what it is; very gritty vocals from Phil, and hard-driving guitars and drums. Vinnie’s solo on this one is very hot as well.
“Mojo Town” is the next track up on Seven Deadly. The song’s a bit slower-tempoed, but has a very nice driving riff. Vinnie’s guitar on this is crunchy and melodic at the same time. Lyrically, it’s almost as if the writer’s trying to convey something he’s lost, he feels empty inside. Going down to “Mojo Town” will get it back for him, if only for a day. I leave this one up to the listener to interpret as I don’t want to give the wrong message about the song’s meaning.
Next up is “Angel Station”. I really like this one. A signature UFO ballad. Strikes me as a track either about a separation, or a lover passing away, and the writer’s left to deal with the aftermath and isn’t coping with it well. I’m leaning toward the death explanation due to a few lines in the chorus, and thinking it’s the writer’s suicide note, saying that he’ll be coming home, to his final destination, to join her. I don’t know; perhaps I simply have a morbid streak? Listen to it when the CD comes out, and you be the judge.
I really like “Year of the Gun”, the next song up. It has sort of an outlaw country/country-rock vibe with a hard rock edge. Vinnie’s lead during the bridge lets you know this song, however, is all rock, no question. Lyrically, I’m getting the feeling it’s just about all of the gun violence taking place around the world. However, the opening lyrics had me picturing an old west shoot-out.
“The Last Stone Rider” is about being the last of your kind, whatever that kind may be. Vocally, I love it. Musically, I hate to admit, it doesn’t really grab me until about two and a half minutes in with Vinnie’s solo. The rhythm guitar and bass riff gets a bit repetitive throughout the first couple minutes of the song. So far though, it’s the only weak moment in the CD for me.
“Steal Yourself” is a solid blues-rock number and seems to be about returning to a lover or friend who’s still “stealing” their own life away with self-destructive behaviors. You walked away once; probably shouldn’t have come back, but the person has that ability, though self-destructive, to drag you right back in, no matter how long you’ve been away from the lady.
Another gem is, “Burn Your House Down”. Lyrically, one of the darkest-feeling things I’ve heard from UFO in ages. Musically, a cool riff, and a beautiful-sounding lead from Vinnie Moore. On this track, he continues to prove he’s more than a shredder. For fans who tend toward the Schenker-era UFO material, give this track a chance; there’s no reason for you not to like the playing on it. Vinnie’s an amazing guitarist, and really shines throughout on this one.
“The Fear” is classic blues-rock sound all the way. The harmonica adds a nice touch. Lyrically, Phil creates some very cool imagery with this track. Phil’s vocal delivery and Vinnie’s blues-driven leads make this song an instant favorite for this long-time UFO fan.
My favorite song on the CD is definitely the closing track, “Waving Goodbye”. Paul’s organ-playing and Vinnie’s leads on this one combine with Phil’s vocals to make this perhaps the most classic-sounding song on the album. It feels like it belongs perfectly on this record, but would also have fit just as well on Walk On Water or Obsession. Lyrically, I get the feeling it’s about saying goodbye to an old friend or lover whom you’ve given too many chances, or saying goodbye to an old way of life that was destroying you, walking away, and starting over. A great way to close the record.
Seven Deadly brings us ten more amazing tracks, and will not let the die-hard UFO fan down. In fact, if rock fans in general give this one a listen, it should bring them some new additions to their fan base. The official release will include two bonus tracks, which I’ve not yet heard. If the rest of this record is any indication though, I look forward to hearing them on release day.
The band will embark on a tour of the UK and Germany in April and May of this year. No North American dates as of this writing, but keep an eye on the band’s website for news, tour dates, sound clips, links to band members’ sites, and other great information. UFO’s Official Site