REVIEW: REX BROWN – “SMOKE ON THIS”

Metal Wani
by Chuck Marshall, July 3, 2017
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There is nothing wrong with remembering your past, but right now is what matters most. In the case of Rex Brown, his past is legendary. As the bassist for Pantera, he was an integral part of an iconic band that made metal history and continues to shape metal music to this day. With the release of ‘Smoke On This’Rex is harvesting his rock roots to create a dynamic new album.

If you are expecting a Pantera or Down spin-off, you can forget it. Brown has teamed up with his good friend Lance Harvill to write an album that cherishes the roots of classic rock music. ‘Smoke On This’ cruises along the highways of rock music on a pan-head Harley soft-tail weaving tenacious rock, slamming grooves, and a touch of southern soul.

The album kicks off with the speed-shifting rocker “Lone Rider” and then eases into “Crossing Lines”. The hooks are barbed and deadly on these tunes. Rex is handling rhythm guitar and lead vocals on the album. His voice has a warm and gritty tone that fits each song like a well-worn leather glove.

“Buried Alive” is a fantastic song. It captures the essence of this album. The song deals with Rex’s loss of his friend Dimebag Darrell and his recovery. One line from this song that resonates strongly is “I had to find me”. ‘Smoke On This’ is Rex finding his own voice and his own musical expression. This song included an emotionally gripping guitar solo by Lance Harvill.

Lance Harvill adds rich and evocative backing vocals on “Fault Line”. I could have sworn it was Jerry Cantrell from Alice In Chains. This song is dreamy and beautiful. From the wistful opening guitar refrain to the delicate piano at the ending, this tune’s poignant sadness is gripping.

Speaking of grunge bands, “Best Of Me” is a killer tune that had me thinking of some of the best that the Stone Temple Pilots recorded. There is a psychedelic rock vibe that permeates this one. Drifting and swaying during each versus, the song kicks you in the head with a powerful chorus. You can imagine a smoke-filled room with a man lost and angry at a relationship gone wrong.

The final song on the album “One Of These Days” is destine to be a classic. The opening tension is cut with the shutting of a door. Rex then sings the chorus and the momentum shifts building in grandeur with each successive versus. The ending feels triumphant and hopeful.

‘Smoke On This is a flat out fantastic rock album. Rex Brown and co-writer Lance Harvill drill into the rich earth of rock music to take the listener on a rock and roll adventure. From the hard-hitting gritty rock of “Train Song” to the Beatlesque psychedelic vibe of “Get Yourself Alright”, this album fires on all cylinders.