UFO
"Seven Deadly"

(Steamhammer/SPV)

01. Fight Night
02. Wonderland
03. Mojo Town
04. Angel Station
05. Year Of The Gun
06. The Last Stone Rider
07. Steal Yourself
08. Burn Your House Down
09. The Fear
10. Waving Good Bye

RATING: 8/10

They just can't help themselves. It seems even if UFO tried to tarnish a legacy defined by some of the best hard rock released in the last four decades the worst that they could do would probably still be better than average. Perhaps that's getting carried away. Or maybe it's just the unbridled enthusiasm of an admitted fan, but guys like vocalist Phil Mogg, drummer Andy Parker, rhythm guitarist/keyboardist Paul Raymond, and lead guitarist Vinnie Moore deserve at least a little leeway in terms of rock criticism. No? Ok, we'll try to keep it as objective as subjectively-informed journalism can be then. In any case, UFO got on a pretty good roll just after the turn of the century, beginning with 2000's "Covenant" and 2002's "Sharks" (the last with Michael Schenker), then revamping with a spectacular choice for a lead guitarist in Vinnie Moore and releasing 2004's "You Are Here" (with Jason Bonham on drums) and gaining momentum with 2006's "The Monkey Puzzle" (marking Parker's return on drums), and 2009's "The Visitor". The one constant across the Moore-era albums has been an effective, reenergized combination of heavy blues, rough-edged rock, and all those great Mogg-led melodies. The train keeps on a rollin' with "Seven Deadly", an album with similar qualities and a harder edge.

That edge is felt not just in the straight ahead rockers, but also in the more blues-infused material, due mainly to the riff-forward, toughened up approach. It is the opening tracks that really set the tone, beginning with the ballsy, straight ahead "Fight Night", including a pronounced Parker cowbell and an AC/DC directness that becomes tribute when the final notes are twisted into the opening slow riff from "Walk All Over You". It's true. Then "Wonderland" hits with a fast paced, true heavy metal riff and a simple hook before the album settles into more of a typical UFO groove, including the rock steadiness of "Steal Yourself", the down 'n dirty, big bottomed strut of "Mojo Town", and the addictive smooth 'n bluesy cadence of "Year Of The Gun". The album's tenderer moments are represented by classy ballad "Angel Station" and closing cut "Waving Good Bye", one with warmth generated from acoustic guitar and organ, as well as female backing vocals that also accent the choruses on several other songs.

Basically, "Seven Deadly" is 10 strong songs that represent well what UFO has become in 2012 — an even tighter unit that shines bright with Moore's electrifying presence (he doesn't just "fit", he rejuvenates) and a vocalist in Mogg that is still in a class all his own. No filler and no going through the motions here; "Seven Deadly" is just an honest, well played and well written rock album. We could use a few more of those.

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