Originally written by Chris Chellis.
Being a true believer in the drive-by review, here I go…
Finding hard rock worth listening to in today’s music scene is an exercise in futility. Those both brave and stupid enough to dive in and hope for the best usually leave cold, disappointed, and willing to dig deep into the genre’s past for much needed inspiration. Sure, bands like Brand New Sin are, in some sense, keeping it in existence, but where’s the push for excellence? Who better to give the first push then Glenn Hughes and Tony Iommi?
The opening track to Hughes and Iommi’s joint venture under the Iommi name welcomes the listener with a warm, comforting riff before letting Hughes’s voice sail. Listening to the way these two play so well off each other reminds me why so many rabid Sabbath and Deep Purple fans were willing to wait nearly a decade to see Hughes and Iommi’s DEP Sessions released last year, and I am sure those same fans will have a feast with Fused. That said, the average Joe who owns a Sabbath record or two and knows of Hughes’ contributions to Deep Purple will find that, while this is certainly a solid and easily recommended album, Fused contains few absolutely killer tracks. When you hear that from a critic, though, you really should take it with a grain of salt, because it means that A) he or she has little bad to say about the album and is searching for things to complain about, and B) the album is a keeper.
When listening to a hard rock album I look for the following things, in order of importance; crunchy guitar riffs, melody, memorable hooks, and an even more memorable vocalist, and Fused follows this formula religiously. “Wasted Again” remains a purely instrumental crunch-fest for the opening ten seconds before Hughes seduces the listener with drawn-out vocal work that leads into a strong chorus. Nothing to complain about there, and that’s pretty much how about three fourths of the album sounds. It pains me to make this comparison, but think of Audioslave if the group were given a few extra shots of testosterone.
Although there are no killer tracks, there are a few moments on Fused that stand out. “What You’re Living For” is an up-tempo rocker with an impressive Iommi solo, and “Grace” is an undeniably smooth example of radio rock done right; light on the cheese and heavy on structure and melody. When compiled, those two excellent tracks and the other, eight impressively solid songs produce an album that should please Iommi, Hughes, and/or hard rock aficionados alike. Don’t expect anything overly progressive, but do expect to rock your socks off. Or at the very least, expect to find enough inspiration in this album to get you to finally throw those things in the wash.