Vanilla Fudge, Rod Stewart, Black Sabbath, Dio, Cactus, Blue Murder, King Kobra…those are just a handful of the bands who have boasted an Appice in their ranks. Drumming brothers Carmine and Vinny have been recognised by fans and critics alike for their rhythms and associations with amazing bands. Now they step out on their own, with a duo album called Sinister.
The musical directions are all alloys of good ol’ heavy metal. “Sabbath gave us metal!” goes one line (more on that later). You know what you’re getting. There’s even a Sabbath medley called “Sabbath Mash”. Joining the Appice brothers are familiar names such as: Craig Goldy (Dio), Tony Franklin (Blue Murder), Robin McAuley (MSG), Paul Shortino (Ruff Cutt), Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake), Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (Guns N’ Roses) and Jim Crean (who regularly plays live with the brothers).
Many tracks have both drummers, with Vinny panned to the left and Carmine to the right. It’s not immediately obvious, but if you listen, the drums sound huge! Double drummers are not something we’re used to hearing, so pay attention and listen to the individuals and what they’re doing. You won’t be bored, even if you’re not a drummer.
Everything rocks — no ballads. You’ll find a sludgy Sabbath vibe on some tracks such as “Killing Floor” (lead vocals by Chas West). Jim Crean kicks ass on “Danger” which comes from the brisk Dio end of the spectrum. Another Crean song, “In the Night” is the most immediately memorable. It takes a few listens to absorb Sinister. Headphones may help, but give it a chance because it’s not an immediate listen. Other tracks are familiar. Blue Murder’s “Riot”, with Robin McAuley singing, is a damn fine heavy explosive.
What about drum instrumentals? Well, of course! You would feel ripped off if the two brothers didn’t go head to head. “Drum Wars” is exactly what you’re looking for. What Vinny and Carmine have done is create drum parts that compliment each other and work in unison, creating a fuller sound. You’ll also get a kick out of “Brothers in Drums”, which tells the story of the Appice brothers. “Is that my brother, on TV? That’s what I wanna be!”
The album goes a little sentimental on “Monsters and Heroes”, heavy as hell, but the lyrics may bring a tear to your eye. “Sing a song, singer, you’re the man on the mountain…” Yes, it’s a tribute to Ronnie James Dio, with lyrics by Shortino, who worked with Dio back in 1985 on Hear N’ Aid. Sabbath gave us metal indeed, but “Monsters and Heroes” captures a little bit of why we miss Dio so much.
Not every song brilliant, and 13 is a large number of tracks, but Sinister grows as you listen. (Stay tuned to the end!) It’s a grower thanks in no small part to some great performances by an assortment of rock n’ roll veterans. Any fan of heavy metal will find something to enjoy with Appice. Serious Sabbath or Dio fans should consider adding it to their collections, as an extension of the discographies. Bonus: there’s a poster inside!