Published Sep 28, 2016Philip Sayce's new release is a powerful and dynamic live album that never overstays its welcome. Scorched Earth Volume 1 comes 20 years after Philip Sayce's first album, and includes seven high-octane tracks recorded at Toronto's Silver Dollar Room. Although the tracklisting is relatively short for a live record, it packs some impressive performances, adding up to 40 minutes of unrelenting blues rock.
The album opens with "Steamroller," a slow-burning tune that the band quickly turns into a roaring rendition of "Powerful Thing." It's a strong introduction to the record, showcasing Sayce's spirited vocals and featuring an extended jam from the power trio.
The production on the album is decidedly raw, with evident plosives, and the unmistakable hum of Sayce's vintage Stratocaster, but it's by no means sloppy. The bass and drums are balanced and punchy, and Sayce's lightning-quick guitar playing is well-defined throughout the record.
There are standout performances throughout the seven tracks, but perhaps the most impressive is "Out of My Mind," a blazing cut with monumental riffs and jaw-dropping shredding. Sayce's intensity is equalled by drummer Kiel Feher, and bassist Joel Gottschalk holds down an infectious groove throughout the song. During his blistering solo, Sayce mixes in the riff from Jimi Hendrix's "Third Stone From The Sun" and his Fender amps sound as though they might explode from his relentless attack.
The album closes with "Alchemy," which Sayce dedicates to his wife. It's a passionate instrumental with superb dynamics and tempo changes, rounding out the record nicely.
The first instalment of Scorched Earth is an electrifying collection of blues fury. Bring on volume two. (Warner)