Bob Kulick – Skeletons In The Closet (2017)

Bob Kulick is by all means, a legend. He’s worked with everyone from Kiss to Michael Bolton and that’s saying quite a bit. He was also in WASP during The Crimson Idol and Still Not Black Enough eras. In all honesty, he’s the brother of former Kiss lead guitarist Bruce Kulick. Seeing as there may never be another Kiss album and Gene Simmons wants to trademark the air, I think Kiss fans might want to look here instead. Even if the material here seems a little more modernized (which is a good thing) and far less in the style of Kiss that we’d remember. Keep in mind that Kulick also worked with Tim “Ripper” Owens on Play My Game, which was apparently not as well received as it should have been. Unfortunately, I’ve been hearing some rabble online regarding a massive hatred of power metal by modern fans, placing it in the same category as deathcore. Now I’ve never been one for deathcore, but this displeasure of power metal among fans is surely news to me. It’s also disheartening, because if they’ll give up on power metal, than they very well might give up on traditional metal and classic rock, which would be a terrible loss to this scene. It seems that if a band doesn’t utilize ten thousand different time signatures in one song or come off as “brutal” than the modern scene doesn’t care about it. I’m not of course saying that this is all modern metal fans, but apparently a good size of them.

Though as I’ve said before, I was born in the eighties. Therefore, none of this means a thing to me and I’d hope to say the same for you, readers. Mr. Kulick was born quite a few years before then, which means that he’s utilizing influences I’m not even aware of in my era, though I can certainly respect. The record as it stands is a collection of musicians ranging from legends like Vinny Appice and Dee Snider to Andrew Freeman and David Glen Eisely. This is nothing, considering that Kulick founded the label that gave us several All-Star tribute albums for acts like Queen, Alice Cooper, Iron Maiden, Shania Twain, Cher, The Beatles and a very popular X-Mas disc that I’m sure most of you have heard called, We Wish You A Metal X-Mas and a Headbanging New Year. This disc featured several now ascended gods of heavy metal like Ronnie James Dio and Lemmy Kilmister, but also Chuck Billy, Tommie Shaw and Alice Cooper. There was even an All-Star metal tribute to Frank Sinatra called Sin-Atra which I’m going to have to hunt down. As far as the record is concerned, it contains a mixture of new songs, classic songs and even an unreleased piece.

“Rich Man” starts us off on memorable rock note with backup vocalist/bassist for Slash, Todd Kerns. Kerns actually performs well enough to feature in his own act, and should since he already has a Canadian clothing line. How in the world does one go about that? I’d personally like to create a unique clothing line that would combine everyone’s love of the Rubix cube and similar puzzle contraptions with apparel. The puzzle element would be in figuring out how to get them off and on again. I don’t believe that anyone’s done that yet. Anway, moving back to the album we have a rather killer number here in “Not Before You” which reminds me a heck of a lot of the Sonic Adventure rock cuts. That’s not surprising as his former band McAuley Schenker Group actually recorded a special acoustic EP only for Japan. He also recorded a solo album, Business As Usual for Japan, because Japan knows what good music is. The next cut we have here features a fantastic guitar performance from Kulick, fronted by the legend Dee Snider. If you don’t know who either Dee Snider or Twisted Sister is, you owe it to yourself to do that research, especially since he stood up to the American government’s wicked censorship processes during the Bush era. Pull up the video sometime and see just what happened to this music around the time of the Satanic Panic and what great frontman like Snider and Halford had to do in order to defend it in a court of law. His vocal performance here is absoluety stellar, even theatrical; making it one of my favorite cuts on the disc. Vick Wright is featured on the next cut, which is a cover of 007’s Goldfinger. It’s an odd little number, that made me double-check about three times to make sure that it wasn’t Alice Cooper on vocals. Though I cannot discern any information about Wright, I can say that he’s a deadringer for Cooper, and that could prove interesting. Next we’ve got “Player” which is the last of the new material for this recording. Fronting the track this time is Andrew Freeman, who is known for playing the punk act Offspring (Really? The same one that released Conspiracy Of One?) as well as George Lynch’s Lynch Mob. Right now, he’s performing in an act called Last In Line, which features the reunited members of Dio. The track itself is quite hard rock, comes off rather catchy and stands on it’s own, but it’s not as good as some of the others, despite Kulick’s sweet licks and solos.

Next we have the beginning of Kulick’s cast-off material, as well as a few lifted cuts from his earlier albums. “India” starts off from ’95s Murderer’s Rowwhere David Glen Eisley is featured. He’s also featured in the next two cuts, so you’ll have to get used to him for almost the entire half of this album. Thankfully, Eisley has an incredible voice and melds perfectly well with Kulick’s mix of modern metal guitar tactics, adding a slight bit of Indian folk music to the mix. This gives the piece a very ethnic feel, which I think delivers in spades. It’s certainly another one of my favorite cuts on the album. The album’s title track comes next, a lifted cut from the same album. Not surprisingly, the track kills and should have gotten more attention from the metal community back then. Keep in mind though, this was around the same time that death metal was king in the underground and black metal was just starting to crawl it’s way out of Norway. That being said, it’s yet another song that makes me curious to hear the whole thing. By the way, this Eisely guy has been on Beverly Hills 902010, 7th Heaven and Action Jackson The Movie. He was also in a few commercials. But most of you will probably recognize his rock ballad “Sweet Victory” in Spongebob Squarepants. “Can’t Stop The Rock” was yet another hit, right up there with some of the best rock anthems. This is an unreleased cut from Amercian Games, which sounds just like it could have been on Murderer’s Row. It does sound like a skeleton in itself though, as it is rather short and the quickest jam on the disc. Moving on from the David Glen Eisely fronted material, we now have the Dennis St. James material, which was lifted from ’91s Skull. “Guitar Commandos” and “Eyes Of A Stranger” feel like they’re closer to the hair metal era, though they also feature Bruce Kulick on additional guitars which certainly adds to these pieces. It’s worth noting that St. James recorded some material for the ’98 Sega Saturn (Sonic Team as well, I tell ya – those guys know music) game Burning Rangers, as well as Daytona USA. I prefer “Eyes Of A Stranger” but both are relatively strong cuts.

So not only did I have an interesting experience with this recording, but I’ve also learned quite a bit about more than a few acts and musicians/actors that I knew nothing about prior. Bob’s performances here are just as strong as every frontman, with not a single song I’d consider to be middle of the road. It’s a rather strong album and I’d definitely recommend it to rock and hard rock fans in the traditional style. Millennials are calling this stuff “buttrock” but I quite enjoy it. Once again, I was born in the eighties – and an album like this one makes me glad for that. Skeletons In The Closet isn’t for everyone, but there’s definitely an audience for this and I’d recommend it.

(10 Tracks, 43:00)

8/10

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