Reviews Gonzales Checkmate



It shouldn’t take a Johnny Cash song to make a record take off. With Checkmate, from Gonzales, that’s exactly the problem. The first hook to really pull you in comes on “Ring of Fire,” which sets a positive tone for everything that follows after it. Unfortunately, that’s only the final three songs.

At their heart, Gonzales seek to be a big guitar, balls-to-the-wall rock band, the kind that screams macho energy and falls somewhere in the neighborhood of Nashville Pussy, with southern influences and unabashed Lemmy adoration. Unfortunately, the first six songs really aren’t that laden with memorable hooks and the vocals are adequate but not gripping. Everything is decent, but it doesn’t jump out. On “Fallen” there are some solos that capture attention, and the intro to “Heaven Gone Wrong” continues the trend, but, generally speaking, there’s little variety to be gained, and seemingly one tempo until “Ring of Fire” kicks off. Lyrics including “My baby knows how to blow my mind” in the latter are indicative of the record’s tone.

After the cover song, the subtle rockabilly of “Go to Hell” is easier to discern, with some serious shredding filling the voids. The latter songs shift the sound a little further from the guitar, utilizing more backing vocals and choruses. This creates a more cohesive sound and the solos feel complementary instead of the driving force. The well-rounded rock’n’roll of “Fiesta” and “My Son,” at the record’s end, offers potential for a compelling rock record.

It’s not so much that Checkmate is a bad record, but it’s without focus and ends up rather forgettable.

6.5 / 10Loren
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6.5 / 10

6.5 / 10

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