Bishop – Rock On

‘Rock On’ was clearly a transitional period for Bishop. Coming between the mid-’90s style hard rock of ‘Centipede’ and the retro heavy metal/hard rock behemoth of ‘Steel Gods’, ‘Rock On’ is, again, a different beast from the other two. In this case, the music is a blend between the previous and next LPs, but with an added shot of Mötley Crüe-style glam in various places throughout the disc. Unlike the other two Bishop albums, this one isn’t completely, unbelievably brilliant; it’s just very good and better than most music out there will ever be. Below average for the band, above average for the world.

The material is, as always for Bishop, extremely well executed. The thick, traditional riffs that they excel at are present, as well as the intense drumming and the powerful yet melodic vocals. There’s a substantial influence from the legendary Thin Lizzy on this album, present in the bass/guitar interplay that the band has made an art of. The production on this release has the most forward bass of any of their albums, with that instrument often leading the music and always being very audible. The contrasting bass melodies are actually a big part of what makes this album so great; the instrument is often happy to go off and do its own thing while the guitar acrobatics float above it. ‘Nature Of Things’ showcases this excellent basswork best of all, though instances of it coming to the forefront are present on all the songs. The other instruments are no slouches though: Bishop is first and foremost a riff based band, and those riffs are as strong as ever, ranging from Southern-influenced bending twangs to musclebound hard rock riffing and traditional heavy metal sections.

Like all Bishop albums, there are no weak tracks. The band pounds through thirteen strong songs with sing-a-long choruses, memorable riffs, and the craftsmanship that defines this band as one of the best in rock music or heavy metal today. Hell, if this is Bishop’s weakest album, that makes Bishop one of the most consistently great bands of the new millennium. If ‘Centipede’ and ‘Steel Gods’ are tier-one releases that are literally must-buys, this is like a tier-1.5, where people who have ever liked any form of music need to buy it, as opposed to the other two, where every person in the world including yak farmers in Mongolia need to buy them. ‘Rock On’ is a truly great album that fits snugly into the Bishop discography as the transition between the first and third albums, and I really can’t imagine anything else but this LP fitting into such a place.

While this is the weaker of Bishop’s three LPs, it’s still a great release that’s worth the time of everyone reading this. Few albums (or bands, for that matter) are as consistently excellent as this one, and that alone makes it a worthwhile purchase. The songwriting on here is great and memorable, the performances are spirited and precise, and the production job is heavier than an elephant. Still awesome music, still Bishop: get it.

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~ by noktorn on November 11, 2007.

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