Maryland rockers LIONIZE celebrate superheroes, sci-fi, Micro Machines and ballistic missile hit parades in their music, making them kindred spirits to fellow statesmen and fuzz rawk warlords, CLUTCH. On their fifth album and first for the CLUTCH-backed Weathermaker Music, LIONIZE reportedly scrubbed through four notebooks of ideas and parts for thirteen songs. Pared down to the eleven groovy smacks comprising "Jetpack Soundtrack", the trio enlisted the help of CLUTCH, LAMB OF GOD and KING CRIMSON producer Machine plus Jean-Paul Gaster himself to tighten up their songs. Suffice it to say, the dividends are huge.
It's safe to assume LIONIZE has a fair trace or two of CLUTCH lurking inside their throwback blend of funk rock. "Lazarus Style" from "Jetpack Soundtrack" could sit nicely on "Pure Rock Fury" or "Blast Tyrant", but fortunately, LIONIZE have a lot more going on in their camp, first and foremost, mondo energy. As far distant as could be from their reggae-splashed 2008 debut album "Space Pope and the Glass Machine", LIONIZE takes their later-explored Coverdale-Hughes era DEEP PURPLE affinities to a different level on "Jetpack Soundtrack". The appropriately titled "Evolve" sounds like MKIII PURPLE brought to an even funkier plane. Hammond organs from Chris Brooks prevail on a lot of the songs here, and they're sprinkled partly in the key of seventies R&B and fusion and partly as rock thunder, lending sugar sweet and syrupy textures to "Jetpack Soundtrack"'s dripping throb.
"Jetpack Soundtrack" is a loud and tireless album loaded with heaps of funk and pimp strides found on "Amazing Science Facts", "Electric Reckoning", "Breather", "Skynet" and "Reality Check". Bassist Henry Upton and guitarist/vocalist Nate Bergman are a true team, figurative to the other's success and it's a joy listening to them trade off in spots and skate together in others. Bergman is rock nectar personified on the mike and he represents the counterpunch to "Jetpack Soundtrack"'s unending clout.
The infectious title track carries a super-cool glide where "Galactus and Magneto bounty hunt for Han Solo" to the tune of humming, organ-swirled verses and blaring distorto-rock in the vein of CLUTCH on the choruses. Everything about this song is catchy and snapped tight, straight down to the scratchy guitar solo and the piloting groove. Right afterwards, "Replaced by Machines" stamps on the volume a bit with drawling slide riffs that are shoved into the song's heavy thrust. A gnarly bass and guitar tag solo maintains the throb of the song as it invites LIONIZE's listeners, as Neil Fallon himself would in sarcastic fashion, to sit down and kick back with whatever ails you as robots assume autonomy over our lives.
With Weathermaker Music backing them up, LIONIZE is all but guaranteed to become a sleeper hit of the year. "Jetpack Soundtrack" goes for broke with every single thread kept harnessed yet operating at full maximum. "Sea of Tranquility" is the slowest this album gets as a revisit to LIONIZE's reggae roots and it rings as a phlegmatic, if guitar-punctured, dub-ripped closer to an album that gave all it had prior to.
Very few albums sound this exciting these days. Galactus is always hungry and even that celestial glutton might be satiated by "Jetpack Soundtrack".