Much like the Japanese-American Tak Matsumoto Group in the 2000’s, The Dead Daisies have featured some of the greatest talent in American, British and Australian rock in its ranks over the last 8 years. Founded by David Lowy, a guitarist with a long history in Australia’s corporate world who also happens to fly planes (both military and private), the Daisies have featured members of INXS, Guns N’ Roses, Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Nine Inch Nails, Journey and more at one time or another. Currently the lineup is Lowy, Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple), Doug Aldrich (Bad Moon Rising, Whitesnake, etc) and Tommy Clufetos, replacing Castronovo at least for the time being after a back surgery. Before the switch was made, they were able to bust out a new album Holy Ground, their fifth to date since their eponymous debut in 2013.
Starting the record is “Holy Ground (Shake The Memory)”, a track that expertly sets the heavy, grooving dynamics you’d expect from a band with this kind of lineup; especially one with Glenn Hughes belting out the vocals. “Like No Other (Bassline)” is straight-up raucous hard rock meant to be blasted at 11 out the speakers, with “Come Alive” cooking up a cohesive cocktail of Joe Walsh verses and Chris Cornell choruses overtop a crushing wave of guitar. “Bustle And Flow” ratchets the groovy, soulful swagger up a few more notches, while “My Fate” begins on a grungy note and graduates into a Ritchie Kotzen/Winery Dogs-esque guitar-and-vocal-chord fest, albeit not quite as technical as anything off Hot Streak.
The guitars ring out hard and heavy on “Chosen And Justified”, morphing into some slick and greasy riffs in “Saving Grace” to effortlessly accompany Hughes’ wailing. “Unspoken” does much of the same with some light touches of The Who, followed by a rendition of Humble Pie’s “30 Days In The Hole” jam-packed with all the old-school flavour four rock vets could muster. “Righteous Days” keeps up the heavy with some well-placed sinister Jerry Cantrell riffs and a Slash-ian solo thrown in for good measure. The ballad “Far Away” wraps things up excellently, starting slow and stringy (it had to happen at least once after 10 back-to-back rockers), building up gradually to epic proportions, double-time drums, ringing guitar chords and all, culminating into an explosive climax leaving everything in free-fall as the audio fades away.
When you get a handful of legends into a room together, there’s a good chance magic will happen- not always, of course; how musically and personally compatible one artist is to the next makes all the difference in any collaborative situation. In this case, the roster gels marvellously and has generated a gem of a fifth album, which is fairly impressive considering how much of a revolving door The Dead Daisies have been over a mere 8 years. Maybe that just speaks to David Lowy having a damn good ear for what works and what doesn’t, or more specifically, who works and who doesn’t. Whatever the case may be, on Holy Ground, four stars combined made the stars align.