What can you expect from someone who was part of the legendary Pantera, threw his weight behind “super groups” Kill Devil Hill and Down? Grinding guitars, machine gun drums, brutal vocals and enough heavy metal to melt your face off, right?
Well, prepare to be surprised.
Rex Brown steps out from the shadows of the aforementioned bands to take centre stage on this, his first solo release. Well known for his numerous collaborations, Brown has taken the bull by the horns, dispensed with the need for guest artists and almost tackled the whole thing single-handedly. As well as his usual place with a bass slung over his shoulder, Brown tackles rhythm guitar and adds vocalist to his ever-expanding repertoire.
From the opening track and first single ‘Train Song’ it exudes southern rock, down and dirty with that driving groove Brown is known for. The feeling continues with the second cut ‘Lone Rider’, more groove with Brown’s bass playing winding its way through the track. Close your eyes and let yourself get swept away on a chest rumbling low-end ride. There’s no wizardry here, solid riffs, a good honest guitar solo and Brown’s raspy voice creating a straight forward rocker that’s comfortable as a pair of well-worn boots.
Speaking of riffs, this album has them in spades. ‘Crossing Lines’ could have been written by AC/DC riff master Malcolm Young. Foot stomping, head banging, groove-infected genius. It’s a perfect example of the down and dirty rock ‘n roll Brown has created on this album.
‘Buried Alive’ one of the absolute standout songs on the album also happens to be a very personal one for Rex Brown. Showing that the late great Dimebag Darrell is never far from the thoughts of those who knew and loved him, Brown, has written a heartfelt ballad, and I use the term loosely. The song talks about how Brown tried to deal with the death of his friend. The line “drown me in black water” will be a booze-drenched earworm you’ll welcome in your head.
Smoke On This… is the perfect title for this album. Light it up, take a long drag and breathe in some of the best rock music you’re likely to hear.