El Pistolero Tracer Mascot Records ★★★★✩
THE Adelaide band glaring from the album insert in the best tradition of rock grumpiness gives a strong hint of what to expect from its latest offering. El Pistolero is a no-nonsense, guitardriven mix of grunge and classic rock that commands attention and should serve as a further global springboard for this power trio. The album was produced by veteran Kevin Shirley, whose impressive album credits cover a host of Aussie bands and international artists ranging from Dream Theater to Joe Bonamassa and Iron Maiden. Shirley has decent material to work with from Tracer, which was Classic Rock magazine’s best new band last year. The producer has let the band’s prowess speak for itself, with a full sound that balances Mike Brown’s soaring vocals and distorted guitar with powerful rhythm work from drummer Andre Wise and bassist Jett JeysenHicks. A descending chord sequence launches the album with the punchy El Pistolero, the first of four parts of the loosely linked Suite Del Desperado, before picking up speed with the thumping Lady
Killer. Despite the western theme, there aren’t too many Morricone moments: Ballad of El Pistolero attempts to get a Latin flavour into the mix and the Doors-like Until the War is Won has distorted spaghetti western echoes. Somewhat out of place, although not unpleasant, is the eastern lilt of Hangman, while highlights include headbanger
Manic for Ya. The album draws to a satisfying, fullbodied retro conclusion with Now I Ride.