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Rex Brown
Smoke on This
Type: CD
Company: Entertainment One
Release: 2017
Genre: Hard Rock
Reviewer: Eric Compton
Published: 8/9/2017
Surprisingly good solo album from the former Pantera bassist
I was expecting this David Allen Coe sort of rebellious troubadour album from former Pantera bassist Rex Brown. 'Smoke on This' is the artist's first solo record, one that showcases his talents as songwriter, guitarist, bassist, and singer. Brown credits Nashville guitarist and songwriter Lance Harvill as his "brotherly" collaborator on the album. The Texas native surrounds himself with a host of talent including drummer Johnny Kelly (ex-Type-O-Negative, Danzig), Berklee College of Music graduate Joe Shadid on rhythm guitar and producer Caleb Sherman (Little Big Town, Porter Block). Drums were tracked by current Accept skinsman Christopher Williams (Blackfoot) and you can hear Lynyrd Skynyrd keyboardist Peter Keys on select songs.

So, is 'Smoke on This' a southern-fried slab of electric rebellion?

Surprisingly no, it's nothing of the sort.

Rex Brown's debut is a really laid back, sort of trippy descent into soulful, softer textures. Tracks like "Buried Alive" and "Get Yourself Alright" utilize acoustic strings and some lighter percussion to ease into soul-searching lyrics about forgiveness and redemption. There is a high on "Grace", abstractly delivered through distorted vocals while "Crossing Lines" is simple but effective AC/DC blues. There is a slice of southern charm on "Fault Line" and "What Comes Around", the latter sprinkled with piano touches and some melodic guitar. The two heaviest numbers are opener "Lone Rider" and lead-off single "Train Song", both equally soaked with bluesy, driving riffs and a rowdy rock 'n roll feel.

Brown's vocals are very good considering he's never shown us that part of his skillset before. Think of a cool, convincing blend of Bon Jovi meets Ricky Warwick (Black Star Riders, The Almighty). It's an odd comparison but one that describes Brown's vocal tones. Lyrically it is all done with conviction, played to perfection by skilled performers and industry craftsmen.

'Smoke on This'...yeah I'll take a puff.
About this Writer:
Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has served as senior editor for MaximumMetal.com for nearly 10 years and is the author of the heavy metal book series--Denim & Letters. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia.

Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



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Smoke on ThisRex Brown
2017
Eric Compton8/9/2017


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