If METALLICA and JOURNEY had a bastard child, it would be FOZZY, the American alternative metal outfit hailing from Atlanta. That’s how the band’s frontman, Chris Jericho, has characterized his squad’s code of metal conduct. For a band that was formed in 1999, FOZZY managed to fly under my radar for quite a long time. It was not until 2017, with the release of their previous studio outing, “Judas,” when I found out about them. Five years ago, I might not have agreed with this claim, judging by the few odd songs that I encountered back then. Now, I have to say that the description is quite spot-on. The new studio album, “Boombox,” due out on April 15th, 2022, via Mascot Label Group, fits the description to a T: the music is both catchy in a “Don’t Stop Believin’” kind of way and riff-tastic in the best “Enter Sandman” fashion. I guess it’s telling somehow that these alternative-metal tricksters have chosen to cover the FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD hit, “Relax,” from 1983: the song is built around nothing short of an iconic riff and it has a chorus that sticks to your head like chewing gum. Another way to dissect the band’s music could very well be to think of it as LINKIN PARK with the pop sensibility turned up a notch. Top that sonic cocktail with Jericho‘s vocals that resonate with the thick air of Ozzy Osbourne and there you go! The band, in fact, started out as FOZZY OSBOURNE, so I guess they must be well aware of the vocal resemblance.
The new album has been quite long in the making, for reasons we all should know by now. So, the music video for the opening track, “Sane,” premiered in June 2021 already. With the song being a kind of an ode to those who live their life to the max, with or without Pepsi, the video was obviously charged with imagery of the edgy and heart-stopping type: it was filmed on the longest wooden rollercoaster in the world. The song, albeit sounding heavy and adrenalized, is maybe a bit too catchy to give you the same feeling of genuine danger. Now, I made it sound as if it mattered. It doesn’t. The song is groovy, catchy, and hooky as hell, and it sets the tone for the whole outing.
The songcraft is unashamedly radio-friendly, echoing the metal aesthetics of bands such as ALTER BRIDGE, AVENGED SEVENFOLD, and FIVE FINGER DEATHPUNCH. “I Still Burn” could be a SKILLET song with synth-driven BRING ME THE HORIZON chorus without the emo screaming, whereas “Ugly On the Inside” sounds like a PAPA ROACH number with a kiddie choir belting out in the chorus.
On occasion, there is also a somewhat 1990s-tinted undercurrent radiating through the music. It sounds particularly prominent on the tracks, “What Hell Is Like” and ”Omen,” which might prompt a foul-mouthing sarcastic to write the band off as a diet-version of KORN. Then again, as the recent KORN album, “Requiem,” goes to show, those nu-metal pioneers have always had a knack for writing catchy melodies and they still do. There’s nothing wrong with that. If I’m not completely mistaken, FOZZY started out more or less as some sort of tongue-in-cheek party-band project bent on playing metal covers. Now, they seem to have developed a habit of writing kick-ass, original pop-metal bangers – almost as though trying to make amends to their shady past activities. We won’t mind as long as the songcraft is this brilliant.
The album grinds to a close with “Vulture Club.” It echoes the same high-octane drive as, say, the 2007 adrenaline-packed riff-maelstrom, “Devour,” by SHINEDOWN. In terms of closure, there is no better way to wrap this selection up.
Surely, “Boombox” may not go down in history as the most cutting-edge metal effort of 2022 but anyhow, I’m sure it will provide enough musical nourishment for the odd occasion when you just want to kick back and relax. The perfect balance of heavy riffs and catchy pop hooks shouldn’t have trouble working its magic on the unsuspecting listener as long as the album is paid its due attention without elitist music-snob prejudices. Hey, even I used to loathe this sort of music some 20 years ago! Now, it works like a hypodermic injection of those lovely little feel-good chemicals. A lot of metal peeps are going to bash the band and their latest offering as fodder for college radio, no doubt. Well, they are naturally entitled to their wrong opinion.
Written by Jani Lehtinen
- I Still Burn
- Army Of One
- Ugly On the Inside
- Nowhere To Run
- My Great Wall
- What Hell Is Like
- The Worst Is Yet To Come
- The Vulture Club
Chris Jericho – lead vocals
Rich Ward – lead guitars, keyboards, backing vocals
Billy Grey – rhythm guitars, backing vocals
P.J. Farley – bass, backing vocals
Grant Brooks – drums, backing vocals
Mascot Label Group