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Eric Gales - Relentless

Blues Bureau International

On his latest cd Relentless, guitarist/vocalist Eric Gales dishes out the same platter of power chords, Sabbath riffs, ZZ Top lines and Hendrix/Vaughan shaman notes that permeated his previous releases. While there is nothing ground-breaking in this song selection, its overall presentation isn't marked by weaknesses. On the other hand, this material just explodes.

Gales doesn't belong in the traditional blues category. He's too busy cranking out molten lava rock in "Bad Lawbreaker," mean metal lines in "Block The Sun" and Eric Johnson/Joe Satriani signature licks in "Universal Peacepipe." But the blues influence lies beneath the aggressive attack Gales unleashes. One listen to "The Change In Me" indicates how Eric commits musical thievery by stealing from ZZ Top's "La Grange."

Though Gales is a left-handed African-American player, he doesn't only play a Jimi Hendrix bag of licks. The Hendrix influence is felt in "On The Wings of Rock 'n' Roll" with its spacy electric church vibe.

The lyrics to Gales' songs are autobiographical: Tall tales of redemption. Breaking the law. Struggles with sobriety. Problems with the law. Keeping company with lowlife characters. Perfect counterpoints for music embedded in an urban rock blitzkrieg.

Gales is young. But you can tell that the classic rock era of the sixties and seventies informs his work. He uses a John Lee Hooker groove in "Make It There" to furiously drag the song across its finish line with a heart wrenching solo.

Because so much bombastic fury surrounds this music, it's a nice welcome when Gales plugs into a happy shuffle with "The Finest Club In Town." It moves fast with Eric's searing guitar hooks but it's some relief. There's also a slow scorch in "When You've Got No Place To Go" with Gales dipping into a mojo bag of Hendrix/Vaughan appetizers.

Running over an hour, some songs could have been left off for a next release. Being that Gales has personal demons to conquer, maybe it's just as well as he gets this music out. Otherwise, his hellhounds might just catch up with him.

Reviewed by Gary "Wingman" Weeks.

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