It’s either a sign of stubbornness or being right first time (I know which it is) but on my review for the EP that Last In Line put out last year – it had a Beatles cover as the lead track, and regular readers will know my antipathy to the “Fab” four – I wrote about the stunning voice of Andrew Freeman and how if you were going to fill Dio’s shoes (as effectively he is doing here given the roots of Last In Line) you’d better be good.
Below is note on my phone for “Not Today Satan”, the lead track on “Jericho”. “”Not Today Satan”” I wrote, “showcases Andrew Freeman’s incredible vocals, proving he was a worthy successor to the legendary Ronnie James”. And I make no apologies for repeating it, either, because he is absolutely brilliant.
To be fair, so is the rest of it. “Ghost Town,” for example delivers a Dead Daisies vibe and a chorus fit for a stadium. This is rock music that roars.
There are highlights wherever you look. “Bastard Son,” with its extra gravitas and piercing riff courtesy of Viv Campbell is one. The double-tracked vocals even give off an Alice In Chains feel. “Dark Days” is deceptively heavy, which is interesting given that these aren’t men you’d immediately associate with “heavy” rock.
Likewise, despite its mid-paced tempo, “Burning Bridges” grooves hard, and “Do The Work” starts off with a ballad-like intro before bursting into full-on rock mode. You may already be familiar with “Hurricane Orlagh,” the superb new song from last year’s EP that exudes confidence and class, and it’s easy to see why it was released first.
The album features a lot of religious imagery. “Walls Of Jericho” does and has Campbell’s superb form shines through once again. It goes without saying that the drummer Vinnie Appice is top-notch, and “Story Of My Life” is a prime example of his skill. However, the album’s poetry continues with lines like “there is always Devils pushing you to decide” in its hook – and this is darker throughout than you’d perhaps expect.
That this is not a “good time” rock record, is evidenced by “We Don’t Run,” which surveys the chaos of 2023 and declares that “the age of God is over” but takes it on head-on. “Something Wicked” reinforces this theme, with its opening line “Come heavy, or don’t come at all.” Overall, the album is pretty aggressive all-round.
And if “House Party At The End Of The World” offers a glimmer of hope, it’s a reminder that we’re still only dancing while the apocalypse takes place.
Back a few years ago Last In Line announced themselves with a debut record that was as good as any that got released around that time, and when “II” arrived in 2019, so did the pandemic to rather stall things. Now though, on “Jericho” there’s a definite feeling that they are coming back to reclaim what’s theirs.
Of course, they are hamstrung by Campbell being on one of the biggest hard rock bands on the planet and the rest with stellar careers, and they might not tour as often as they might like to, but as “Jericho” proves, on record there are few better bands of this type.
This type of rock music might not be this good anywhere else in 2023.