"Chasing the Grail"

(Riot! Entertainment 2010)Fozzy - Chasing the Grail

First off, Fozzy have a lot of things going against them. Let's see: their name is Fozzy, they used to be a cover band named Fozzy Osbourne, WWE stalwart and VH1 metal dood Chris Jericho is their vocalist, and the band's guitarist and bassist also play in perennial let-downs Stuck Mojo. That's an awful lot for fans to either roll with or look past, and Fozzy take some steps toward getting taken seriously on their fourth full-length "Chasing the Grail."

Album opener "Under Blackened Skies" is just a fantastic heavy metal song. An assault rifle riff attack, great speed/power dynamics, and a surprisingly emotive and forceful vocal performance from Jericho make for a rousing, inspired anthem. Unfortunately, things slip considerably after such an incredible appetizer. "Martyr No More" brings a nice, low-down sleaze until some speedy Pantera-ish bluster shows up from nowhere to totally derail the groove, and "Broken Soul" is a tepid power ballad in which Jericho's Ozzy-esque vocals sound even more like Sharon's husband than usual.

The entire middle of the album ends up being a meandering attempt at covering too much ground that ultimately comes across as toothless and unfocused (my notes for the song "Watch Me Shine" simply say "dickering," if that tells you anything). "Paraskavedekatriaphobia (Friday the 13)" finally gets back to some real ferocity, throwing down some biting Scandinavian-flavored thrash in the vein of Shadows Fall; but by then tired stabs at tough-guy metal a la Disturbed and Stone Sour, unimaginative riffs and lyrics, and the occasional studio-enhanced vocal trickery have rendered "Chasing the Grail" limp. And that's to say nothing of the half-baked fourteen minute Iron Maiden-style "epic" that is "Wormwood."

Fozzy certainly try their hardest to escape the stigma of being "that metal band with the wrestler for a singer," and on "Chasing the Grail" they come close, but don't...quite...make it. There are too many instances of the band treading water, and their forays into more experimental territories are whiffs more often than not. But songs like "Under Blackened Skies," "Pray for Blood," and "Paraskavedekatriaphobia (Friday the 13)" prove that Fozzy have what it takes to rock with the best of them. They just need to focus on the heaviness and dial in on their more adventurous impulses. All that being said, this is still better than anything Stuck Mojo's done in a long, long time.


buy it!