‘New World Order’
(Frontiers Music srl)
When I first heard Seattle quintet Q5’s first single, the title track from their debut ‘Steel the Light’ thirty two years ago, it came at me with such sonic force, blasting out of the speakers in the old Klapperkahn in Frankfurt, Germany at a mindnumbing volume (because that’s how we played music in those days) and like everyone else in the club hearing it for the first time I was pulled it by it’s quasi Dio-esque majestic meets plodding verses and Jonathan K’s wail. The next day found me at City Music picking the album up as soon as I could go there. Bringing the record home, I, much to my parents chagrin, attempted to blast it as loud as the club did but to no avail. Thank God for headphones. The album was gold from start to finish. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity hear the band’s 1986 followup ‘When the Mirror Cracks’ until the late 90’s (after they had split and partially reformed as Nightshade, even). Still good to these ears, they were, although the immediacy was obviously not there.
It’s now 2016 and they’re finally returned with a followup, New World Order on the Frontiers label. Does it hold up? It’s a pretty solid album with 3/5 of the band returning (vocalist Jonathan K., guitarist Rick Pierce and bassist Evan Sheeley) while drummer Jeffrey McCormack and guitarist Dennis turner replace Gary Thompson and Floyd Rose – of tremelo bar fame – respectively.
One thing that seems to be apparent (to these ears anyway) is that Pierce and Mr. K have become major Saxon fans as ‘NWO’ can easily stand side by side with any recent Saxon release and in fact, if you heard much of the album without knowing who it was you would most likely assume you were listening to a “new” Saxon release. The first evidence of this is, in fact, on the first first track, “We Came Here to Rock” (the song title is even “Saxon-esque” is it not?) while “One Night in Hellas” is pure mayhemic fury. “The Right Way” leans towards Bon Scott era AC/DC and would fit right in on ‘Highway to Hell” – some great riffing coming from mesers Pierce and Turner. The title track is a throwback to mid 80’s Q5 but the song falls short of past glories. “Tear Up the Night” sees us back in Saxon territory. “Requited (A Woman of Darkness and Steel)” pulls the band once again back into their early years but as with the title track, falls short on the writing front, although Rick Pierce delivers a tasty solo on this one. “Just One Kiss” is immediate and a powerful mid tempo melodic rocker and then we’re right back on the Yorkshire heroes (aka Saxon) playground once again with “Fear is the Killer.”
“A Warrior’s Song” is a welcome change of pace, kicking off with some nice acoustic guitar work before breaking out into a full on hard rock assault. The album’s closing track, “Get Next To You” seems more suited for the stage than on tape (ummm, digital files, that is).
Overall, not a bad return for the Seattle act .. I just can’t past the fact that nearly every song on New World Order sounds like a deep cut on any Saxon album of the past decade or so.
– Dave Tedder