Every rock ‘n’ roll fan has that moment in their life when they hear an album that changes their whole existence. For me, it was Rocks by Aerosmith, which got me into rock, then Appetite For Destruction by Guns ‘N Roses, which finished the job. The next generation of rockers may consider those bands prehistoric but they could possibly say that 21st Century Goliath’s sophomore effort, Back With A Vengeance, was the album that got them hooked. Only time will tell but we could be witnessing the next huge moment in rock history, firsthand.
21st Century Goliath is a rock band from Charlotte, NC that truly understands the genre of music and its history. They take the bluesy sound rock ‘n’ roll was based off of, the hard, driving style from the bands that took over the world in the 1970s and combine them with the attitude of the groups from the 1980s. The guys put out their debut album back in 2012 and quickly made a name for themselves in Charlotte and surrounding scenes. Couple that album with their live show and you had one of the most dangerous outfits around. Fast forward two years and rumors that the guys’ second album is going to blow the doors off the music business start to go around. I was lucky enough to get my hands of a copy of Back With A Vengeance a little early and can say these rumors may end up being very true.
The first thing most fans will notice is the raw, dirty and powerful tone of guitarists Scott Roby and Kip Wilson. If you take a listen to some of the biggest albums in the history of the genre, you will notice that the guitar tone sets the initial mood. The guys in 21CG knew what they were doing here. The foundation to any good band is the rhythm section. You can’t ask for a much better drummer than Adam Ellis and new bassist Kenny Keeler tightens up the group, taking them to a whole new level. Though, the part most people focus on are the vocals and lyrics. And frontman Tony Leon has a voice made for rock and the ability to tell a great story with his lyrics. All the makings for a great album are here so lets take a closer look at the songs.
The album starts off with the extremely catchy “Welcome to the Dark Side.” Genuine fans of the genre will be hooked once they hear that crushing drum beat and the hypnotizing sound of the guitar. Tracks like “Brace Yourself for Hell,” “Got My Number,” “Back With A Vengeance,” “You Crossed the Line” and “So Much to Learn” are driven by ferocious guitar riffs, scorching solos and big choruses featuring insanely catchy vocal melodies.
“Dirty Little Secrets” and “Children of Fire” are full of enough sex appeal to fill your mind with plenty of dirty images. Both songs also feature very strong performances from the rhythm section, causing massive amounts of headbanging. Old school fans of the band will recognize the albums first single, “Cold Hearted Woman,” as a staple in their live set over the past few years.
With some modifications including some guitar harmonies good enough to make the likes of Thin Lizzy and Judas Priest proud, the tune is tougher than ever. One of my favorite songs is “Detroit ‘76,” which takes you back in time with a great lyrical story covering the golden age of rock with some pretty awesome harmonica work, as well. The album comes to an end with “No Gold” and “End of the Rainbow” (which are two separate tracks on the physical copies but included in the same track on digital versions). “No Gold” has more truth in the lyrics than any song you will hear on the radio, hitting on the reality of following your dreams.
I have come across a lot of albums I say that fans of rock will love and should be in your collections but if you only listen to me once, this is the one you absolutely must have. These twelve songs are proof that a style of music many claim is dying is in fact still alive and well.
You can pre-order the album for just $5 (digital) or $10 (physical) through the band’s website. This deal only lasts until November 21st, so hurry up and get over there and get one while the getting is good. The band will release Back With A Vengeance on December 5th, as well as play a show at Amos’ Southend on the same night with other Charlotte rockers Beyond the Fade, Dirty South Revolutionaries and Fire! Fire! You can get $8 tickets to that show here.