Lies of Smiles (LOS) leave the murky dungeon of their debut and leap into a harder, faster, brighter, slicker sound with Cross & Claw. An all new line up, apart from original guitar slinger Davy Little, but this time he has recruited an awesome array of musicians who show their total class throughout this release.

The opening salvo of “Something Wicked” and "Fallen” is like getting hit by a metallic freight train, but, let’s get this right, for all their trappings LOS are not heavy metal, they are much more than that.

This is tight, yet diverse, song writing. Each of these songs is compact, with focus completely on the guitars and vocal combo driving the overall essence of each piece, but they are all distinct units, not chips from the same block. Bridges and solos and soaring choruses exist in each, yet each song is a burly, self-contained brawler.

The CD has 3 massive epics in the shape of ”Fallen”, “Tower of Angels" and “Warhound and the Worlds Pain”. All of them are incredible in their impenetrability, scope and heavily-arranged tho’ dazzlingly performed delivery.

Thurlows’ gargantuan vocal performance that surely ranks with the greats in this genre, the Little/O’Neill twin axe attack, so different in delivery, the red and the black, expert rhythm team of drummer Keith Naylor and bassist Chris “Wizz” Wing. Throw in Wings classically tinged keyboard colors and from there it's one stellar track after another;

O’Neills/Littles/Tuckers thunderous axework on the opening track “Fallen”, Thurlows poignant delivery on " Tower of Angels" a classic,  the epic sounds of "Death from Above", the massive crunch of "Just a Man", the powerfully/syncopated “Stone Cold”, the intricate "of time and stars", the proggy "Warhound"...you get the picture. One awesome slice of heavy rock after another, and in the end you'll want more.

Fred Purser (Tygers of Pantang, remember The Cage, glory days! I loved that band) has done a monstrous production job and the whole CD is sonically & visually stunning.

Davy Little (surviving guitar player from LOS 1) seems to have a mission (see the website liesofsmiles.com) of maximizing LOS’s mythology in an alchemically symbolic, Angel-fired package that bleeds through the whole project in bursts of true surrealism, it works on so many levels. (The references aren’t lost on me, I’m old enough to remember..and far to young to forget).

Pure, steel/rock precision. Disagree? Give me anything that is coming out of the “motherland” that has this energy. I buy Classic Rock Magazine from that little country (that I love)and I play their “free” CD’s. It ain’t pretty and only the Brits could see this “free” CD full of classic “no hopers” as a gift. Let me tell you this for free most of it sucks a Danubean river of shit but Cross & Claw for me, puts the Brits firmly back in the game with a "Screaming Vengeance".

If you haven't had the opportunity until now to discover this band, buy Cross & Claw and return to those golden years when guitars were still powerful but musical instruments, lyrics were sung with passion and not hysterically screamed by some ball less wailing eunuch and when musicians had respect for their work.

The guitars fade, the closing howl of "Warhound and the Worlds Pain" ringing in my ears, the curtains blow and the candle flickers, LOS head back on the stellar highway to the sanctuary of the “Four Winds Bar” (see the website, very slick) at an undisclosed locale somewhere in the mist covered/ancient Isle of Albion, where the sign on the door reads “Last heat on the beach”.

Remember, "Red And Black-- It's their color scheme"

Jake Castillo
Metalhawk radio
Springfield, MA, USA