Holy Ground

The Dead Daisies

Spitfire Music, 2021


REVIEW BY: Ben McVicker


An Australian-American rock band with many alumni to its name, including Richard Fortus, Dizzy Reed and Frank Ferror of today’s Guns n’ Roses, The Dead Daisies have produced a series of strong, riffing albums since 2013. But Holy Ground is the first must-have of the band's discography. With the departure of former Motley Crue vocalist John Corabi and bassist Marco Mendoza, the band has downsized to four members featuring founding member David Lowy (rhythm guitar), Dough Aldrich (lead guitar), Dean Castronovo (drums) and… the great Glenn Hughes on lead vocals and bass! A change of lineup and sound that is sure to gain new fans, The Dead Daisies’ Holy Ground  is an early contender for one of the best rock albums of 2021.

An album in the works since the release of a single in “Righteous Days” in September 2019 with Glenn Hughes’s immediately identifiable voice and a great chorus, Holy Ground’s release was delayed for a year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Released on January 22, 2021, approximately one year to the day of the outbreak, the album is a boon of hard rock escape to fans after 12 months of cabin fever.

The album opens with a great one-two punch. “Holy Ground (Shake The Memory)” and “Like No Other (Bassline)” pack a heavy groove and melodic vocals with the bass mixed loud and clear. It feels like an announcement: Glenn Hughes is here, he packs a punch, and he’s taking this band up a notch from a rock band to a supergroup. And it actually my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 feels like a band effort. So often, a group of top-notch musicians get together and their recording(s) end up falling under “good, but forgettable.” Anyone remember Them Crooked Vultures with Led Zeppelin bass legend John Paul Jones and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl on it? Didn't think so.

There is not a single weak number on this album. Almost 50 years have passed since Hughes injected Deep Purple with a dual dose of funk and soul, and he’s just as good—nay, better—at it today. Listen to that great groove to “Come Alive”! That signature wail on “Chosen And Justified”! All while playing with a decidedly heavier, crunchy sound to his bass than fans of his older work will expect. Completist fans of Glenn Hughes’ work will hear an overlap between the guitar riff to “My Fate” and a song from his collaboration with Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi on Fused (2005) called “Face Your Fear,” but it is only another reason to smile: 15 years later, the riff still packs a punch and Hughes can still belt out a melody at the same range.

While it’s Glenn Hughes who will be the star of this album to many listeners, the rest of the band deserve equal credit. Founding member David Lowy has led The Dead Daisies through a revolving door of band members and five solid albums since 2012, and Glenn Hughes has thrived from the opportunity to write with him five years after his last solo effort (Resonate, 2016). It’s great to hear Doug Aldrich (the most underrated guitarist to play for Dio in my opinion) tear it up on guitar on songs like “Bustle And Flow” and “Chosen And Justified,” the latter a classic fist-pumper of a rock song. And Deen Castronovo on drums! It was a damn shame to see him handcuffed to Journey for 15-plus years, and to hear him playing hard rock again, decorating songs like “Unspoken” with fills is a treat to the ears.

Closing with a longer, winding track entitled “Far Away” with time for each musician to shine, Holy Ground is a treat to listeners who pine for the days of yore when concerts were aplenty. Fingers crossed that after the ongoing pandemic exits stage left, The Dead Daisies will be itching to get on the road and play these songs live. In the meantime, crank the speakers or headphones and enjoy a new classic.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2021 Ben McVicker and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Spitfire Music, and is used for informational purposes only.