Review by Greg Fristick
“Under The Sun,” the third release from independent Texas rockers, Blacktop Mojo, is set for release on September 13, 2019. You would think that following up the success of previous releases “I Am” (2014) and “Burn The Ships” (2017) would be difficult for an independent band, but upon listening to the new record on repeat for a week or so leading up to this review, the boys from Palestine, Texas, were up for the challenge.
The album kicks off hard and heavy (just as any rock album should) with “Lay It On Me.” Bone crushing drums, a groovy bass line, and a sick guitar riff lead into the powerful vocals of Matt James. Mid-tempo verses and powerful choruses with a shredding solo stand out on this in your face track.
“Set It Free” shows a little bit of Blacktop Mojo’s grunge influence but also has a sludgy, groove metal feel to it. “Come Get Your Coat” continues on with the grunge influence with what seems to be an Alice In Chains influenced intro riff that would make Jerry Cantrell proud. This song also features some amazing vocal harmonies along with a soulful guitar solo accompanied by piano. The track ends with a shredding guitar solo.
Next up is “Keep.” This is the moment where things start to take a turn on the album. Musically, this track has a classic, doomy Black Sabbath vibe to it. For a moment, I thought I was listening to Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi on bass and guitar. Then comes the chorus, and it was like classic Chris Cornell before Soundgarden hit the mainstream. This mid tempo track has the perfect groove from start to finish.
As we hit the middle of the album, we get another change of pace with the beautifully arranged, soulful, and bluesy track “It Won’t Last.” The boys definitely show their Texas roots on this one. This could be another hit single.
The second half of the album kicks off with the hard-hitting “All Mine Now.” The songs has hints of 80s influence along with a southern rock vibe and intermittent guitar solos throughout. The simple, yet catchy chorus is one that will definitely be stuck in your head. That is a good thing. Trust me!
Next up, the lead single, and currently in the Top 40 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Charts, “Can’t Sleep.” A clean guitar intro with a groovy bass run and solid drum work along with melodic vocals, a catchy chorus, and the ever important hook that makes a song a hit. This song is an instant classic.
More Bluesy oriented rock appears on “The Lashing (Ghost).” The arrangement of this song is very haunting and goes along with the title. This could be another hit single.
“The Void” is a mix of southern rock and hard and heavy rock. Acoustic guitars, a groove-laden bridge, powerful vocals, and shredding solos… What more could you ask for?
The album closes with the title track “Under The Sun.” This is the perfect way to end an album. It already has me anticipating the next release and this album isn’t going to be released for a couple of weeks. I would describe this song as “Sludgy Groovy and Doomy.”
Before I wrap things up, I must say that with each album, the members of Blacktop Mojo become more seasoned musicians and keep getting better with each release. Matt James is a powerful vocalist. Guitarist’s Ryan Kiefer and Chuck Wepfer can shred with the best. The rhythm section of bassist Matt Curtis and drummer Nathan Gillis is one of the best in music today. For anyone that says that there is no good music out there today, they are not looking in the right places. There isn’t a weak track on the album. Blacktop Mojo is a force to be reckoned with in the music industry. Look for them out on the road as they tour in support of “Under The Sun.” You can preorder the album HERE
Rating: Instant Classic