Album review

Tribe Of Judah : Exit Elvis

Blondie : Greatest HitsIt's been a while since we've heard from Gary Cherone. Certainly one of rock's more poised frontmen, Cherone's departure from the poorly received Van Halen experiment, now four years ago, certainly wasn't through any fault of his own. In fact the record had its moments, if examined from a purely musical perspective, but overall failed to carry the expected weight that a Van Halen platter should. And as things stand now, definitely a sad ending for one of the greats.
    Cherone's been keeping a low profile of late, but the once active singer finally arrives back on the scene with his Tribe Of Judah gathering and this eclectic Exit Elvis record. It's a healthy serving of hard rock at the core, particularly early on, with various production elements in place to spice up its modern relevance, which, added to Cherone's already appreciable knack for envelope pushing, makes for an expectant yet intriguing listen.

Expect no guitar gods this time round, but the playing is purposeful nonetheless; no anthemic bantering or make shift More Than Words medleys just because . . . and I'll quickly offer my thanks for resisting any potential call for an Extreme reunion during the downtime.
    Highlights here include the chunky Left For Dead, fusion-duced and catchy No One, the thunderous progression of first single Thanks For Nothing - which chorally closely approximates a heavier Extreme track and is lead choice along with either of the previous.
    Celibate is more production technique at play - sampling and other electronic incandescence - resulting in one of the larger stylistic deviations on Exit Elvis. This eclecticism is a luxury Cherone can afford, and he pulls it off well on one of the more radiant tracks here.
    And the effect gains in potency the further we go: Ditto on Ambiguous Headdress, which again delves deeply into the electronic realm, heavy on the ambient effects - a skillfully presented departure into new age developments.

Cherone's voice is the constant source of acknowledgement and strength, save for the handful of familiar heavy rock tracks, he's still sounding in fine form, and is still the alternate Sammy Hagar that Eddie Van Halen was looking for - but obviously much less concerned with the there and then.
    In My Dreams comes away as one of the best cuts of this retreated cloth with a strong chorus and mutative drumbeats. And for song eight, all I can say is . . . funny!
    The closing Exit Elvis - much as it might hurt me and kill others to hear me say it - is reminiscent in beat to Van Halen's Once. The title track is the most ambitious of the bunch, yet has little to do with twisting and tweaking, but plenty to do with momentum shifts, scaling, and chanting.

Exit Elvis is a departure from the past, and after a few years it's good to hear Gary Cherone back doing his own thing. He's embraced technology, and opted for a new beginning, stepping far and away from yesterday's news.
    We're not hauling out the heavy artillery for the next dub war yet, but he's definitely stepped close to the cutting edge with what amounts to an experienced experiment that's bold and not the least bit shy.

:: Vinnie Apicella

Go to top of page
Latest articles

Alone in the dark: Buffy The Vampire Slayer bows out in style with the Season Seven DVD Collection.

Johnny Knoxville plays him in the movie Grand Theft Parsons, but counterculture speaks to the man himself: Phil Kaufman interviewed.