At the epicenter of a trans-formative new rock movement, with all its pros and cons, plus the power and beauty, of the legendary last bastion of truly great rock singers – Chris Cornell – gone forever, I always cringe in anticipation when preparing to listen to what ‘new’ rock bands might bring to the table. The latest project to arrive on my desk is the album “Scenes”, by the band Fly Like Venus. Formed in 2016 in the Birdland neighborhood of San Diego, Fly Like Venus is comprised of two singer/guitarists – Tom Nawrocki and Mike Chadwick – along with drummer Rusty von Dyl and bassist Denver Miranda. All accomplished musicians who have a few decades of experience behind them. That in itself was comforting, before I even got to hear the first couple of notes on the recording.
The first 3 out of 4 tracks on the album “Docking An Airship”, “Charlotte Said” and “Wondering Why”, quickly induces you to believe that this is the kind of music you have on both vinyl and CD, on your phone, in your car, and maybe purchase for friends and loved ones, as well as send to some random rock acts of the current millennium. Seriously. Musically, the album spans a diverse range from straight-up hard rock, bluesy rock, psychedelic, and epic acid rock – it has just about everything connected to the classic four-letter-word that is – ROCK!
But more than HAVE it all, it is HOW they do it all, which ultimately makes this an essential album for anyone who vaguely cares about real, no-nonsense rock n’ roll. Fly Like Venus bring the core elements that made this genre what it was, and should be. Moreover, rock n’ roll is an attitude as well as a music genre, and this band has tons of that too. The result is a modern take on vintage rock, and a natural progression for the genre, rather than just a fancy new ‘retro’ album.
So by the time you hit play on “The Ladder” and settle into the ever building wall of sound and bone crushing twin guitars, you’ll be in seventh heaven. However “Pinto” is the song I had been waiting for, without even knowing it existed on this album. Pure, electrifying power – it’s the song you expect to hear on any decent rock album that calls itself such. This thing just kicks ass, from the first bombastic note to the last. But hey the euphoria doesn’t stop here. If you love a twin guitar groove, with cool riffs and smart chord progressions, dig into “Scenes From My Window”, for the ultimate thrill.
“Overjoyed” turns the flame down a notch, but not the fire, which keeps burning intensely, especially in the chorus sections. Which brings us to the vocals that are not to be underestimated. Sure, this is a guitar dominated recording, but the vocals themselves play an enormous part in giving this album an authentic rock dimension, and on this track they are stunningly soaring. “Beyond Today” attempts to break the mold with a softer acoustic-driven interlude, but by the end of the song all hell breaks loose, and those electric guitars are almost impossible to restrain, as are the vocals.
There are so many great songs here on “Scenes”, while the innovative hard hitting rock riffs and solos from Nawrocki and Chadwick, combined with the perfectly driven bass complements from Miranda and the percussive punishment of von Dyl, make for a great sonic experience. In each song, Fly Like Venus create direction, tugging you into one tempo, then blindsiding you with fireworks into another, which inspires an insane amount of adrenaline. Absolutely worth a whole lot more than the investment of your time and a fistful of dollars. Spread it around to the connoisseurs!