Album review: SHIFT – Lead, Judge & Jury

SHIFT – Lead, Judge & Jury

Self Release  [Release date – out now]

The amount of new music which comes through for review every week never ceases to amaze me, via download and CD an endless stream constantly pours in. It can be a bit of an ordeal listening to some and finding constructive ways to say they are poor at best but occasionally you do find an absolute gem which reaffirms your faith in rock, Lead, Judge & Jury is just such an album.

This is Shift’s second album, the first having been released back in 2007, and it is an absolute cracker. The band are all seasoned musicians which is clearly evident as the playing and song writing on the album are of the highest calibre.

‘Bullet’ starts things off in frantic fashion with a rock solid riff which gives way to an almost thrash like chorus but with the emphasis on the melodic, think Five Finger Death Punch and you are in the right area.

Next up is the lead song from the album, ‘Damned’, which is another well-constructed song featuring a hooky chorus and some sensational guitar work from Rich Davis and Doug Guthrie.

Just when you think you have the band pigeonholed they then take a turn of the prog metal kind with ‘Machine Gun’, an urgent and unrelenting track with twists and rhythm changes galore, it is a highly impressive track. Not quite as impressive as ‘Journey To The Grave’ which has multiple vocal styles coupled with an almost tribal sounding riff and drum pattern which, when played loud, is mesmerising.

To calm things down a bit we then enter Tool territory with the next track, ‘Rescue’ that starts with a quiet vocal and the builds to a majestic chorus with drummer Chris Lembach throwing in all manner of drum fills throughout.

The pace rises once more for ‘Show Me’ before ‘Wiser Man’ takes us back in the Tool direction once more, again the guitar work on this track is outstanding.

There is another change in direction with next track ‘The Ghost In Me’ which has touches of Killswitch Engage complete with shouty vocals and another great chorus. ‘The Hammer’ then continues in a similar vein before ‘Brighter Days’ rounds off the album in fine prog metal fashion.

This is an album with so many elements to it that it grabs your attention from the opening chords and keeps you enthralled until the last rings out. Jeff Caulde on vocals puts in a stunning performance throughout and it is refreshing to hear true harmonies, something that is often lacking in newer bands who think they are harmonising when they all sing at the same time!

If you are looking for innovative, well written and well- constructed rock music then I heartily recommend that you track down’ Lead, Judge & Jury’ and Shift your musical expectations up a notch or two.  *****

Review by David Wilson

David Randall plays a selection of new and classic rock in his weekly show first broadcast 14 June 2020 including reference to the Feature series “2020 Vision”.

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