Energy Overload

Carmine Appice - Fernando Perdomo Project

Cleopatra Records, 2021

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


The Carmine Appice - Fernando Perdomo Project grabbed my attention right off the bat because I wasn’t sure quite what to expect from this exotic combination of talents. While drummer Carmine Appice is more or less a known quantity, having bashed the skins for Vanilla Fudge, Cactus, Ozzy Osbourne, King Kobra, and hard rock supergroup Blue Murder, among others, Fernando Perdomo is something of a musical chameleon. Perdomo first caught my attention in 2005 as a key member of Transcendence, and has since flitted from project to project and session to session like a musical hummingbird, displaying kaleidoscopic range—from prog to pop to fusion to TV commercials—and an admirable ability to adapt his playing to whatever the song requires.

The question on my mind as I settled in to listen was, would Perdomo mold his playing this time out to Appice’s typically muscular and aggressive hard rock approach, or would their meeting of musical minds occur somewhere outside of that frame?

You get the answer roughly 1.2 seconds into the album, which Perdomo kicks off with the buzziest, fuzziest blast of turn-it-up-to-eleven feedback a leather-pantsed axeman could ever drool over, and then proceeds to run wild, unleashing his inner guitar hero as senior citizen Appice delivers the kind of ribcage-rattling backline thunder that makes you want to check his birth certificate. (But no, he really is 74 years old and still playing like a house on fire. Life goals unlocked.)

To the styles that Perdomo both enjoys and has abundant chops to handle, we can now indisputably add hard rock. Because these songs, all strictly instrumental, absolutely blaze. Musically, there’s a lot of early Deep Purple in the bones of these tracks—Appice and Ian Paice are contemporaries with compatible styles—alongside nods to guitar gods from Ritchie Blackmore to Ronnie Montrose and Joe Satriani.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The aforementioned opener “Blow Speaker Boogie” kicks things off with a strutting, turbo-charged boogie that just keeps upping the ante until “Funky Jackson” arrives in a haze of cool, its ringing riff and funked up bass line punctuated by potent fills. The third-up title track features guest keyboards from Derek Sherinian (Alice Cooper, Dream Theater), who dives in at full speed, adding wild synth lines as Appice and Perdomo are both going nuts underneath. The song has an almost progressive feel, shifting tempos and trying out one riff after another until it all flames out in a ferocious Michael Schenker-esque fireball.

The only logical way to follow a moment like that is to slow things down, which is far from a guaranteed outcome on an album with this much raw energy. But thankfully they do, because “Flower Child” blossoms as a gentle, bluesy ballad featuring pealing, extended notes and an expressive solo from Perdomo, with Appice providing an airy, open feel behind the kit. “Rocket To The Sun” follows with open, clean tone and Appice riding the cymbals, growing heavier as they go, a number that would have fit right in on Ronnie Montrose’s The Speed Of Sound.

Sherinian returns for “Pure Ecstasy,” his rich Hammond playing lending a distinctly Purple tint to the proceedings as the lead duo crafts an appealing hybrid that’s both lilting and heavy. “The Triumph” announces itself with a tasty drum fill and blasts off from there, delivering abundant energy as the lead-in to a highlight I didn’t see coming. An instrumental cover of Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” is unexpected both because of the song choice, and because of how good it is. Appice delivers another terrific performance as Perdomo dials back the fuzz, keeping it clean and subtle as he plays both the guitar line and the lead vocal melody while guest Durga McBroom (Pink Floyd, Blue Pearl) fills out the arrangement with backing harmonies. When you take on a song by a Beatle, you really want to hit the bullseye; Appice and Perdomo nailed it.

Having gone there with a relatively mellow number, Appice and Perdomo put the pedal to the metal for “Little Havana, Big Havana,” accelerating from a controlled, melodic opening through an increasingly athletic build until Appice and Perdomo are both absolutely wailing by the end. Track 10 provides the next surprise, opening with a space-reggae arrangement surrounding a riff that takes a minute to locate… until you realize it’s a radical reimagining of Rod Stewart’s “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy,” a tune Appice co-wrote and played on. The thing is, it works! And actually gets to jamming pretty hard toward the end.

Closing pair “Starstream” and “Thunder” are where you’re reminded of the other nugget lurking in Appice’s lengthy CV: the 1973 supergroup Beck, Bogert & Appice. Both tunes have a distinctly Jeff Beck-ish tone and fusion-y churn to them.

Carmine Appice and Fernando Perdomo might be players of different generations and—to some degree, anyway—tastes, but on Energy Overload their less-than-obvious pairing takes on an “OF COURSE” vibe very quickly as both of these world-class players bring unmistakable joy and enthusiasm to their pairing. What more can you ask?

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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