In 2013 the Winery Dogs released their first album. It was an immediate smash success with fans all around the world, uniting vocalist/guitarist Richie Kotzen (Poison, Mr. Big), bassist Billy Sheehan (Talas, Mr. Big), and drummer Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Adrenaline Mob). Of course, those very same fans had been wondering when they would get a new release from the band; the news had been quiet for quite some time aside from a deluxe reissue of the first album.
Recently it was announced that we would be seeing the next album from the group before the end of 2015! With the near universal acclaim of the band’s first album and live shows, this definitely came as good news for the fans. When Hot Streak hits stores in October, plenty of fans will be going to snatch it up. In the meantime, the band has released a single online entitled “Oblivion.”
I will admit, and this is apparently heresy – I did not enjoy the band’s first album the way that the majority of people did. To me it felt too derivative of modern rock sounds, with much of it feeling like a lost Audioslave album rather than something truly enjoyable and original (Kotzen’s Chris Cornell-esque singing voice not helping any in that comparison). “Elevate,” arguably the “hit” of the album, sounded like a Foo Fighters rip-off. The music itself was not bad, but felt unoriginal, especially given what all of these men have achieved in their respective past bands. That said, the album was not a total loss to me, and there were still hints of potential musical greatness and chemistry to be had.
Okay, if you have not quit reading this review in disgust after reading the previous paragraph, you are likely curious as to how the band’s newly released track from their forthcoming album measures up. I have made it fairly clear as to my feelings on the band’s debut, but despite this, have been optimistic for new recordings from the group.
My optimism for the forthcoming new album has skyrocketed with the release of “Oblivion.” One of the biggest problems with the so-called supergroups of classic musicians is that they form new groups with modern-ish sounds that come off as horribly unoriginal despite the abilities and past accomplishments of their members. Conversely, you have the bands at the other end of the spectrum who seem content with putting out the same album over and over, never changing things or trying to stir the pot to keep things interesting.
On this new cut, the Winery Dogs have found that perfect balance, and have definitely come to realize what they are capable of as a formidable rock trio. While the song does maintain much of the modern edge of the band’s earlier recordings, here you can hear these guys branching out and doing their own thing their own way. The guitar is blistering right from the get-go; Kotzen is a phenomenal player that continues to rank amongst the most underrated of all time. And Portnoy continues to be an absolute beast of a drummer in more ways than one, making his work known throughout the four-minute duration of this new cut. It is their most powerful song to date, and may be the one that wins me over with them as a trio.
I was a bit put off by the initial release from the Winery Dogs, but Hot Streak is looking to be a damn good release if “Oblivion” speaks for the rest of the record. I will definitely be picking the new album up when it comes out, but in the meantime, give “Oblivion” a listen!