In 2014 Jake E. Lee announced his return to the music scene with a brand-new band. Although the tour didn’t exactly go as expected, with their debut live concert at West Hollywood’s Whisky A Go Go being widely criticized due to Darren James Smith’s (Harem Scarem) poor performance, and him then leaving the band until he and Lee could patch up their differences (it was completed with four other singers). But, they are now back with their second album, and the band (completed by Anthony Esposito on bass (ex-Lynch Mob) and Phil Varone (ex-Saigon Kick, Skid Row) on drums) have put everything behind them and have delivered an album packed full of songs, hooks, and the musicianship everyone expects from a group comprising Jake.
Since he burst onto the scene first with Ratt and Rough Cutt, but most notably when Lee became the permanent replacement for Randy Rhoads with Ozzy, there has never been any doubt of his skill. But since Badlands he has kept a relatively low profile, and it is only since he formed Red Dragon Cartel that he has really thrown himself back into the scene with vigour. This is bluesy hard rock, with passion and emotion combined with a guitarist who knows when to stand back, when to put in some fills, when to riff, and when to shred like an absolute demon. In some ways he reminds me of Bernie Tormé in that one knows the songs will never be straightforward, and there will always be additional bits and pieces being thrown in as the guitarist sees fit. This is melodic hard rock with passion, and I can imagine “Bitter” having been written for Ozzy to perform as in many ways it could have come off ‘Bark At The Moon’. Jake E. Lee has been away for far too long, but with the second album from Red Dragon Cartel he is back where he belongs, on the stage, with a strong album to promote.