Fozzy has a backstory almost as weird as Spinal Tap’s. The funny thing here, however, is that their backstory started out entirely fictional when they released their debut album nearly a decade and a half ago with the band saying they went to Japan with a record deal, destined to become huge rock stars, but the label went bankrupt and they were stranded there for 20 years during which time various artists like Twisted Sister, Dio and Judas Priest stole their songs. As if that’s not zany enough, Fozzy’s singer was — and remains — professional wrestler Chris Jericho. But when they started, Jericho used the pseudonym Mongoose McQueen for Fozzy. When he was in character as McQueen, he denied any knowledge of Jericho. On the flipside, Jericho knew who McQueen and Fozzy were and was a super fan. When Fozzy released their first couple of albums they were mostly doing covers of the bands they’d accused, however jokingly, of stealing their songs. But when it came time to do their third album, All That Remains (2005), they decided to drop the backstory and McQueen alias. More importantly, they wrote their own songs. And people liked it, the album selling over 100,000 copies, which isn’t bad for an indie metal band that started off as a cover band with a ridiculous back story and wrestling-tie ins. Following all that remains, they released more albums of original material in the form of 2010’s Chasing the Grail and 2012’s highly successful Sin and Bones. Now they’re back with their brand new release of all original material, Do You Wanna Start a War.
The album opens with “Do You Wanna Start a War,” a highly enjoyable, old school heavy metal style tune. And it’s not hard to imagine Ozzy or the late Dio covering it. To that end, it especially calls to mind Ozzy’s classic “Over The Mountain.” It’s followed by “Bad Tattoo,” a roaring anthem with an air of Mötley Crüe and Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society.
The album’s lead single, “Lights Go Out,” has much more of a modern metal vibe with savage riffs and shrieking solos. It’s easy to imagine it doing well on modern rock radio and fans of the artists that populate said format should totally eat it up. And how could they not? It’s crammed full of contagious energy and is easily the band’s best single to date. Indeed, it’s quite the ass kicker.
“Now I’m forced to face the truth / That the best part of me died with you,” Jericho sings during the killer power ballad “Died With You,” an emotive tune that’s like Journey during the verses and Saliva during the chorus. To that end, if you liked Saliva’s Nikki Sixx-penned “Rest in Pieces,” this one is for you.
“One Crazed Anarchist” is like the exact opposite of “Died With You” with its pummeling drums and boisterous guitars that are no less effective than a razor across your throat. With growled death metal style vocals during the chorus, it’s one of the band’s darkest songs to date and is sure to score big with metal heads who wouldn’t dare listen to modern rock radio, helping to round out the diverse album.
“Unstoppable” is a super positive heavy metal anthem that doesn’t quite feel like your typical Fozzy song, but it’s nice to see them painting with some different colors, less things start to seem all black and white. “You’ll never break me / I’m unstoppable / You’ll never shake me / I’m unstoppable,” goes the chorus, which demands you to sing along to it when you catch the band live. Speaking of which, they’ve been hitting the festival circuit big-time with dates at Rock on the Range, Carolina Rebellion and Rockfest. They even recently played the main stage at Download for the first time.
The second to last song on the album is a completely unexpected cover; it’s not even a metal song. It’s none other than ABBA’s “SOS.” They give it the metal work-over during the chorus, complete with screeching guitars, but during the verses it’s pure pop, complete with keyboards. They do make it sound darker and more melancholic, however.
Although the hip club scene isn’t kind to bands with any hair metal influences, it wouldn’t be surprising if clubs that normally only schedule indie rock and pop acts accept Fozzy this time around. (They’re sure eating up Steel Panther and Fozzy is like a heavier, less gimmicky sister of Steel Panther, especially when you consider how Fozzy started.) In Boston, for example, none of the clubs usually touch metal. Any sort of metal. Back in the day, it was The Paradise’s bread and butter but not so anymore. And the House of Blues frequently books Steel Panther but no other metal bands. So, with no clubs in the city giving them the time of day, metal bands usually have to play the Worcester Palladium when they hit Massachusetts. And so it would be nice if fans in other parts of the state would finally be able catch them live this time around and this stellar album is certainly likely to make that a possibility. Cheers to that.