CD Review: Duff McKagan’s Loaded / The Taking
Reviewed by: Mary Ouellette
As a Guns N’ Roses fan, the one thing I can take away from their unfortunate fall from grace are the many side projects that rose like a phoenix from their ashes. Formed in 1999 Loaded is the brainchild of Duff McKagan featuring McKagan on lead vocals and guitars, Jeff Rouse on bass, Mike Squires on guitar and Isaac Carpenter on drums. With Loaded, Duff McKagan has been able to show off his broad range of talents and with their latest offering The Taking McKagan and company give us an ambitious earful. The follow up to their 2009 release Sick, The Taking is a gritty, grungy, yet radio-friendly offering that should please old school rockers and new school headbangers alike.
From the first note The Taking delivers with a sonic boom, and I have to believe that working with producer Terry Date had a lot to do with that; having worked with Soundgarden and Avenged Sevenfold in the past it was a perfect fit. The Taking runs the gamut of pain, loss, triumph and redemption and according to McKagan can be summed up as “Life. Bring It.” McKagan calls this album “the closest thing to a concept record that I have ever been involved with.”
With dark undertones, rough edges, and grungy vocals the album opens with two of the best songs it has to offer. The politically tinged “Lords of Abaddon” and “Executioner’s Song” set the album up with back to back, lights out, punch you in the face on a rainy day rockers. “Executioner’s Song also offers up some of the best guitar work on the disc with an honorable mention to “Follow Me To Hell”.
The first single “Dead Skin” offers up a sound that’s a little more mainstream and probably a lot more radio friendly than the first two songs. While not the strongest track, it seems like a safe pick for the first single and who can argue with that.
“We Win” is the head-scrathcher on the album for me. While the song is fun and I find myself singing along to the chorus, I’m not sure it really fits the overall theme of The Taking. It’s not a new song, The Seattle Seahawks used it throughout their 2010 season at Qwest Field, and that really seems like a better vehicle for it. It’s a perfect fit for sporting events and the like. Given the sinisterly dark vibe of the rest of the The Taking, it’s just feels out of place here. It’s a fun song and a rock n’ roll battle call fit for a king, but the rest of the album is hardly suitable for royalty.
“Easier Lying”, “Cocaine”, and “Follow Me To Hell” get the album back on track. At points the songs ooze of the pure rawness of garage band jam, an obvious nod to the producer for going easy with the gloss and one of the overall highlights of the album. Duff’s vocals offer up a punk infused bluesy rock delivery that paired with the right guitar lick seem to define the grimy nature of this band.
All in all, The Taking provides the perfect soundtrack for a kicking, dragging, screaming return to the gutter so if you like your rock dark and dirty, this one is for you.
1.) Lords of Abaddon
2.) Executioner’s Song
3.) Dead Skin
4.) We Win
5.) Easier Lying
6.) She’s An Anchor
7.) Wrecking Ball
8.) King Of The World
10.) Your Name
11.) Follow Me To Hell
Watch the video for “Dead Skin” below:
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