Album review: The Dead Daisies “Holy Ground”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Glenn Hughes dominates The Dead Daisies’ terrific new album. He was a brilliant, but risky, addition to a fabulous rock band. He and the band pull it off as the new studio album demonstrates.

The Dead Daisies are back with its fifth studio album, “Holy Ground”. Since the last album and tour, vocalist John Corabi and bassist Marco Mendoza have left the band. They have been replaced by Glenn Hughes on both lead vocals and bass. That is a major change and it shows. The Dead Daisies has evolved as a band and moved on in a new direction. The new album is terrific. But, it is very different from the Corabi/Mendoza era of the band. Glenn Hughes takes up a lot of space and this sounds like a terrific Glenn Hughes album rather than what we in the past would consider a Daisies album. If you, like me, are both a Daisies and a Glenn fan, this is a smorgasbord of exquisite music. When Glenn last toured Japan, in 2015, he had Doug Aldrich (ex-Dio, Whitesnake) on lead guitar. After that tour, Doug joined the Daisies and now the two gentlemen have reunited in the new line-up of the Daisies which also features Deen Castronovo (ex-Journey, Bad English) on drums and band founder and rhythm guitarist David Lowy. Lowy took a gamble and made a very ballsy move when he invited such a legendary rock star to join the band. Adding someone like Glenn to a band line-up isn’t the same thing as adding some other replacement musician. Glenn Hughes requires space. When he walks into anything, he takes centre stage. Don’t forget that this is a man who walked into both Deep Purple and Black Sabbath and commanded attention and respect and got it. Thus, it was a risky move adding him to this band. But, so far, the gamble seems to have been the right one. Losing the band’s frontman could’ve been the end of this story. Now there is a yet another chapter being written in the Daisies story. While the arrival of Glenn in the band grabs the spotlight, the other band members are delivering terrific work on this album too – not least the phenomenal guitarist Doug who is delivering one of his best-ever studio performances on this album. This version of the band is a solid rock collective of seasoned veterans. Rather than trying to fit Glenn Hughes into The Dead Daisies, Lowy and the band wisely opted to evolve and create music that is built to incorporate Glenn and his talents. The result is stunning.

The album kicks off with the heavy and catchy “Holy Ground (Shake the Memory)”. The song has Glenn all over it, but it also contains an insane Doug Aldrich guitar solo. It’s a statement that this is a band that has evolved and here’s what you can expect from this new album. It’s a punch in the face and I want more. I get it, immediately, with the next song, “Like No Other (Bassline)”. More energy, heaviness, catchiness, insane guitar work and plenty of groove in the music. I have time to think “Blimey, this is brilliant hard rock!” before Glenn goes off with a bass solo in the middle of the song. I bow my head in respect. The album just continues from there and never eases its grip of the listeners’ ears, brain, heart and balls with terrific songs such as “Bustle and Flow”, “Chosen and Justified”, “Unspoken”, “Saving Grace” and “Righteous Days”. Swagger hard rock? Yeah, perhaps, but this quartet can back up the claim. They deliver on every song. The combination of heaviness and catchiness is very appealing and will serve this band well. Rumours say that Castronovo will sing lead on Corabi-era Daisies songs when his new line-up will perform live. That can make a lot of sense in order to keep the Daisies relevant as a band with a proud legacy and not turn into a Glenn Hughes backing band. I love, love, love Glenn Hughes. He’s a terrific artist who brought soul and groove to hard rock with his golden voice and splendid bass guitar. At 69, he’s still got it. His early work with Trapeze and then Deep Purple in the 70s and later Black Sabbath, Hughes/Thrall, Phenomena and John Norum, have shaped my musical tastes more than I ever realised. He continues to have that tremendous impact on me with this new album. The new version of The Dead Daisies is oozing with terrific songwriters and musicians. The new line-up and evolved sound will leave some old fans missing Corabi and Mendoza, but it will surely appeal to many old fans and create many new fans. I dig this new version of the Daisies as much as I dig the earlier versions. Corabi and Mendoza are missed, but they will keep doing music elsewhere for us to enjoy. Lowy made the correct decision to take the Daisies in a somewhat new direction rather than trying to continue doing what the old line-up did. There are, however, some hints of the old Daisies on this album, such as on the track “30 Days in the Hole” (a Humble Pie cover) and also on the terrific Japanese bonus track, “Inside and Above”. The Dead Daisies are dead. Long live the new The Dead Daisies. Now we’re looking forward to seeing what this new version of the band can do live on stage with both the new and old songs.

The Dead Daisies’ new album “Holy Ground” will be released on 22nd January via Ward Records in Japan and internationally via SPV.

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