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THE LIZARDS (Cold Blooded Kings) CD

Been waiting a long time for the third LIZARDS studio album to be released, and I'm glad to report that they are continuing to evolve as a band quite nicely. I was very skeptical about the band's development after vocalist John Garner (ex-Sir Lord Baltimore) had left the band, because this man owns such a significant and original voice and style, and all of you who dig Sir Lord Baltimore and the previous LIZARDS albums as much as I do will surely agree. But in Mike Di Meo, THE LIZARDS have found more than just a simple replacement and THE LIZARDS didn't make the mistake and looked for someone who is close to John Garner's vocal style. Instead, they found in Mike Di Meo a singer, who covers new ground and adds a complete new musical dimension to the entire sound. "Cold Blooded Kings" is still a typical LIZARDS album, a masterful blend of soulful 70's-tinged hard rock and heavy Blues, played with the spontaneity of metallic funk.

The band has an almost superhuman grasp of dynamics and their technical skills and virtousity are over the top. Once again, this album includes nine well-crafted tunes, and Mike De Meo's kaleidoscopic vocal style is hard to define. The tortured "Down" is not that far away from Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused" and owns the same mood and brilliance. Klein's guitar trawling the depths of black despair, while Di Meo sounds like the small brother from Robert Plant. But this isn't the only cut, that reminds me very strongly to Led Zep. "We are Dinosaurs" is a heavy anthem and a self-reflection about the LIZARDS' roots and rock 'n' roll philosophies, while the instrumental "Hyperspace" shows all the qualities of the musicians, especially Bobby Rondinelli's (ex-Black Sabbath / ex-Blue Öyster Cult / ex-Rainbow) molten rhythms are dominating this cut and top-notch bass player Randy Pratt is an excellent harmonica player, too. Patrick Klein's driving, spiralling riffs are as effective as usual, and here and there he comes up with an emotional guitar-solo.

"Cold Blooded Kings" and "Dark Matter" are just another two perfect examples for the band's ability to create breathless groove-laden hard rock killers, and "Take a Ride" (featuring John Garner on acoustic guitar) is a perfect cross between sensual acoustic parts and well-temperate heaviness. I really love it, how this gang is able to change the musical themes within a song, without losing the cohesion or the overall drive. Here are a few hints at the genre of progressive rock, but THE LIZARDS are more interesting in moving people's ass than stimulating the brain cells without losing their stunning cleverness. "Cold Blooded Kings" is an excellent refreshing album and should be interesting enough for everyone who loves intelligent hard rock, that sounds modern but is still deeply rooted in the 70's. Amazing!