Molly Hatchet - 'Justice'

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Molly Hatchet - 'Justice'
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New album by southern rockers Molly Hatchet.

Much like fellow southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet have been flying the southern flag for more years than I care to mention. With the addition of original guitarist Dave Hlubeck back into the line-up, this clearly benefits the authenticity of the band these days, something that has been questioned on occasion. Though lets be honest, it’s been Bobby Ingram’s band for some time now and this is clear from the writing credits and the more commercial style of music.
‘Been To Heaven, Been To Hell’ is classic bar room boogie and Phil McCormack’s uncanny ability to sound like the late Danny Joe Brown serves the song well. Its all there, whiskey soaked vocals and some nice piano from long term member John Galvin, all wrapped up in some classic southern guitar work .
Things work very well on ‘Safe In My Skin’, though it does sound like Phil McCormack is stretching himself beyond his vocal range at times. Something I really enjoyed was the freedom given to John Galvin to really put his mark on some of the songs with some nice keyboard flourishes. This is displayed to wonderful effect on ‘Deep Water’, a song that starts with a keyboard intro not unlike Blackfoot’s ‘Teenage Idol’. The twin guitar refrain hits a winning formula that stays in your head for days and 38 Special seems to be the closest comparison.
‘Gonna Live To Die’ clocks in a little too long at over eight and a half minutes and supplies some ring sharp solos that really add a polish to the song. It’s well structured in that every band member has a chance to shine, and a strong chorus with some backing vocals added by one Michael Bormann only adds to the quality of the song. The band have dedicated a song to the tragic loss of Somer Thompson, which features her sister singing the intro, in view of the touching subject matter of this song I will leave it to the listener to decide on the value of ‘Fly On Wings Of Angels’ (Somers’ Song)’. The ballad ‘As Heaven is Forever’ suffers from a shaky vocal delivery and it’s clear there’s a good song hidden in there but just doesn’t quite hit the mark for me.
Again ‘Tomorrows And Forevers’ suffers from Phil’s snorting vocal despite it being boosted by some strong backing vocals. It’s a song that would not have been out of place on the more commercial ‘The Deed Is Done’ release. A dark brooding keyboard intro takes us into ‘Vengeance’, which is a cocktail of duelling guitars and atmospheric keyboard work and is one of the band’s heaviest songs to date. It was inevitable the title song ‘Justice’, which brings the cd to close, would have to be an epic piece and the band don’t disappoint. It’s the story of the Dalton gang and lets be honest only a band like Molly Hatchet could write about such subject matter with any level of conviction. The song takes a slow pace to tell the story before Bobby Ingram and Dave Hlubeck trade guitar licks in true southern fashion and bring the song to a climactic ending.
Lets be honest there is nothing revolutionary about what Molly Hatchet do these days but the fact that they are still doing it is always cause for celebration.

Ray Paul

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