I've had a love/hate relationship with Fozzy, ever since they ditched the cover band gimmick and started writing their own material. With each passing album, I've seen a band that knows how to write some solid melodic rock/metal, but can't keep their focus all the way through. “All The Remains” had some great tracks, but ventured off into unnecessary rap metal. They then ventured off into unnecessary prog, and more beat-driven music, all of which brought down the solid songs that made up the majority of the records. They're one of those bands that keep trying new things, but don't utilize those new touches as a way of enhancing their songs. They become the focal point, which doesn't help the band keep their identity.
Now Fozzy is back with “Do You Wanna Start A War”, which may be the tipping point for them, as far as I'm concerned. They're deep enough into their careers that if they haven't made an album I can throw my weight behind, they probably never will.
Fozzy has always had a massive sound, and Rich Ward continues to know how to make his guitar sound as deep and as fat as anyone in metal. Between his meaty sound, and Chris Jericho's vocals, Fozzy starts out with all the pieces in place. The opening title track is everything that's good about Fozzy, a hooky little number that has energy and melody in equal balance. It's a simple song, but that's what is great about it. Fozzy isn't trying to do anything other than play fun music, and that's what they're best at.
“Bad Tattoo” is the flip side, a ponderous song that throws away everything that made the opener so enjoyable. It's slower, more ponderous, and lacks a compelling hook. It's three minutes of filler if I've ever heard it.
The remainder of the album alternates once again between really solid melodic metal and songs that feel like second-rate B-sides. It's a frustration, since Fozzy demonstrates clearly that they can write the kind of music I would love. Songs like “Died With You” and “Tonight” are solid, and then get followed by the tuneless “Brides Of Fire”, a song that makes me wonder what was going through the band's minds when they decided to include it on the album.
For the first time, I think I've put my finger on what it is about Fozzy that makes them prone to such swings. When the guitar riffs veer off into the rap-metal territory Rich Ward made famous, the heavy groove all but eliminates the possibility of a strong melody being laid over the top. The riffs strangle the song, turning it essentially into cleanly sung death metal, if that makes sense. But when the guitars open up a bit, Chris Jericho has room to work, and he can produce strong choruses like in “One Crazed Anarchist”.
Overall, “Do You Wanna Start A War” is yet another Fozzy album that falls in the same category; good, but with massive room for improvement. Most of the album is really good, and would easily get a hearty recommendation, while there are a few songs that leave me scratching my head. Fozzy has all the potential to be one of the bigger bands in metal, but they don't seem to understand what they do best. I like “Do You Wanna Start A War” much better than their last couple of records, but it's still one I will only recommend with some reservations. I'm not going to give up on Fozzy, but I'm still waiting to be convinced.