HOLLYWOOD MONSTERS – Thriving On Chaos (2020 Voice Music, Japanese import)
Supergroup? Or just a good time? Singer/guitarist Steph Honde, drummer Vinny Appice, and bassist Ronnie Robson gathered a load of friends and recorded a fun heavy metal album of originals and covers. There is also a healthy helping of Canadian content (such as Robson in the core trio)!
Opener “A Scream Looking For a Mouth” is a raging heavy metal track along the lines of vintage high-voltage Motorhead. Hell of an opener. Add Deep Purple’s Don Airey on guest Hammond organ solo, which just hits the right spot amidst all that raging. “Speak of the Devil” continues the heavy, though not the speed, thankfully, or you’d be seeing a chiropractor from all the headbangin’. A catchy chorus and solid riffing make it another instant winner. Solid metal. A chunky riff kicks off “Something Wicked”, a really fun uptempo rocker.
Things get slower and darker on the monumental “Running Up Hill”, which is instant hit material. Ted McKenna on drums. Instant classic, with a chorus that kills. Regardless of the daily struggles we face, Honde reminds us, “Never surrender!” It’s a message of positivity, and the best track on the album.
“Numb” is another good one, grinding out a riff slow an’ easy. The added keyboards provide texture. Even better is the beautiful acoustic ballad “In This House”. Honde has an excellent acoustic album called Empire of Ashes, and this track easily could have fit on it. Though he’s a rocker, he is exceptional at tender acoustic ballads.
The first cover is “I Don’t Need No Doctor” featuring Jim Crean on backing vocals. It kicks all the expected asses, and Honde’s guitar soloing is tasty as hell. Next up: Canadian content with the Goddo cover “Drop Dead”, featuring Greg Godovitz on co-lead vocals and Tommy Denander on lead guitar. It smokes, and that lead solo? Set phasers to stun!
“Thriving On Chaos” is another impressive original. It has a slow, dramatic riff that is somehow familiar. Excellent songwriting, and hard to pigeonhole. It’s followed by a very Maiden-esque song called “Fortune Teller”, which has a vibe very similar to some of the tracks on Fear of the Dark. Fred Mika plays drums on this tempered-steel monster.
The final cover (and Canadian guest) is the Thin Lizzy cover “Cold Sweat”, as sung by Danko Jones. Danko is the perfect guy for it! He nails the Phil vibe, yet with his own snarl. And the Steph Honde guitar solo? Call the fire department! This alchemy of Jones/Honde/Appice/Robson is pure combustion. You can seldom go wrong with a Thin Lizzy cover, but here everything goes so, so right.
Always a surprise when the Japanese bonus track is one of the highlights. The heavy, thumping “I Am the Best You Can Get” slays! “Heavy” is an understatement! Vocalist Steph Honde goes from scream on the verses, to growl on the chorus. The droning chorus is the best part! This one features (Canadian) Glen Drover on lead guitar and Alexis Von Kraven on the relentless drums. The Japanese CD even comes with a printed interview with Steph Honde – though I cannot read Japanese!
Pick it up – shell out for the Japanese if it’s within your means.