Rex Brown, a name of royalty in the metal World with the huge rise in the 90’s of legendary band, Pantera. Joining a collective of impressive musicians in other projects such as Down and Kill Devil Hill, the later of which being the closest of the three mentioned with what to expect from this solo effort.
Smoke on This… takes finds itself fitting easily in the hard rock genre with plenty of the expected southern flair and attitude. Rex takes on not only the bass role which we know him well for, but lead vocal duties too, and with the voice he brings to the table, it does make me wonder why it seems to have taken so long for such a voice to come to the table.
Opening track delves you right into the thick of it, hard hitting, catchy, classic hard rock. ‘Lone Rider’ is a short, yet hard driven song and plays like a muscle car down a straight empty road. ‘Crossing Lines’ chases up after, with just as much attitude, its swaggering groove with have even those with rigor mortis tapping their feet and rocking their heads.
With a video released in July, ‘Buried Alive’ mixes the mellow with the heavy. A strong lyrical approach about finding yourself again, a showcase track of the musical abilities of the back line Rex has on board, it sounds like it wrote itself. ‘Train Song’ takes you back into the rush of it with similar attitude of the opening track, no time is wasted in getting down your throat and nothing is overdrawn in the song making it play through and past like its namesake down the track at full pelt.
‘Get Yourself Alright’ takes on a sound unlike those of the opening first four, with a more laid back, open and a great introduction into the rest of the album which takes its foot off the gas as that angry muscle car down the straight road earlier leaves the city behind to find the open road leading to clear skies and nothing in site for miles. ‘Fault Line’ sits as close to a full acoustic track as you’ll find on the album, gentle, mellow and full of melody, the perfect laid back kind of song.
‘What Goes Around Comes Around’ is reminiscent of Led Zeppelin, simple yet powerful with a chorus riff that sounds like the stuff from stadium sized arena shows of the greatest rock legends. ‘Grace’ is akin to ‘Fault Line’ in a lighter touch approach, taking its positive sound into the upbeat ‘So Into You’, a true summer rock track.
Penultimately comes ‘Best Of Me’ which plays on as one of the most memorable tracks of the album, with album closer ‘One of These Days’ being probably the most musically expressive of the album. Building steadily, it leads into something unlike anything on the previous tracks. A truly emotive and fitting end.
Smoke on This… for me seems one of two things, both perfectly timed and long overdue. For all Rex has achieved in his career, this really puts him out there, and the finished product is testament to it. On the other hand I have always wondered why it hasn’t happened sooner, Rex’s musical abilities have never been questioned, so to not have been brought to the front of an album is almost a crime. It is here now though, and the wait is over, and much deservedly too. A true rock God, the legend of Rex Brown lives on.