(Niji Entertainment Group)

01. Raise Some Hell
02. I Just Wanna Rock
03. Rebels Highway
04. Ride Free Or Die
05. The Code (feat. Ronnie James Dio)
06. Livin' Outside The Law
07. Let It Ripp
08. Fight Fire With Fire
09. Madman
10. Runnin Wild
11. Vengeance

RATING: 7/10

Not having issued an album since the 1980s, straight-ahead heavy metal band THE RODS reunited in 2008 and have now released an album of brand new studio material called "Vengeance". The trio of guitarist/vocalist David "Rock" Feinstein, bassist/lead vocalist Gary Bordonaro, and drummer/vocalist (and producer of some classic '80s metal albums) Carl Canedy bring the same unpretentious approach to basic, riffs-forward songwriting on "Vengeance" that they did on albums like 1981's self-titled effort and 1982's "Wild Dogs".

You'll find nothing fancy or brain-bending here; merely a collection of songs that feature hot, no frills riffs, in-the-pocket rhythms, and choruses designed for crowd participation. Somewhere between SAXON's bare bones rockers and Sammy Hagar's (with and without MONTROSE) feel-good, fists in the air anthems, songs like "I Just Wanna Rock", "Raise Some Hell", and "Livin' Outside the Law" are great fun, even if they won't end up as anthems for a new generation. Listening to a song like "Rebels Highway" makes one realize that bands like BULLET didn't just borrow from AC/DC. "Runnin' Wild" could have been a song that DREAM EVIL polished up and made its own. The album's strongest cut, "The Code", features guest vocals from the late Ronnie James Dio (Feinstein's cousin and former ELF band mate) and benefits from his powerful pipes. It would be one of the last songs Dio ever recorded before his death.

There are no painful cuts, only a couple middling ones, such as "Ride Free or Die", and on all of them THE RODS bring the rock with a, uh, vengeance. The world could stand a few more heavy metal bands like THE RODS to remind us what heavy metal is supposed to be all about: cranking it up loud, playing from the heart and ensuring that a good time was had by all. "Vengeance" is a welcome return.


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