Bringing electricity to the masses, grizzled god of thunder and axe-wielding chameleon unleash a shockwave of sturm und drang.
They style their project as the clash of fire and ice, yet there’s a lot of coolness in Fernando Perdomo’s guitar art and Carmine Appice‘s resounding drumming. The two musicians have been gravitating towards one another for some time now, exchanging ideas and taking sketches to the studio where they bounced it all off of one another, the instrumental results being simply called “Energy Overload” – straight to the point. Their first record features original cuts alongside two covers: Paul McCartney‘s “Maybe I’m Amazed” – a nice continuation of the recent Fern-helmed "Ram On" tribute to the Beatle’s album – and “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” which Carmine co-wrote with Rod Stewart.
Perdomo’s six strings assume the role of tone-rich voice on these, pretending to feel delicate only to soar ever so slightly over the song’s soulful surface before letting Durga McBroom rip heaven open with a great-gig-in-the-sky vocalese on the former, and slowing the latter down to seductive rocksteady that stresses Appice’s versatility. But more than anything “Energy Overload” should emphasize the duo’s humor, fantastic interplay and spur-of-the-moment telepathy on the jazz-rock likes of “Thunder” and infectious opener “Blow Speaker Boogie” which picks up where “Beck, Bogert, Appice” left off to streamline the players’ heavy filigree and strut harmonies with panache. There’s an occasional feeling that Fernando, despite the nimbleness of his fingers and solo-provoking prowess on bass, is struggling to cover Carmine’s immense dynamic range, so the deliberately raw sonics serve them well, especially when such numbers as “Funky Jackson” marry melodic elegance to aural assault and let organ roar and roll.
The friends might require Derek Sherinian’s help in the ivories department on the elastic stretches of “Pure Ecstasy” and prog-metal sheen of the album’s title track, yet the ebullient, momentum-gaining “Little Havana, Big Havana” and romantic “Flower Child” don’t need external assistance to bring out vibrant, lyrical nuances in their delivery. As Perdomo anchors it with wah-wah before flying higher and higher, and Appice punctuates the acoustically tinctured tunes’ every skyward spiral, hitting cymbals to show “Rocket To The Sun” a route to the axe-driven storm, an alluring tableau is unfurled.
The rapport between Carmine and Fern couldn’t be more palpable, and another album that’s in store can only strengthen it.