Multi-instrumentalist Greg Hampton has an impressive résumé; he’s worked with Alice Cooper, Bootsy Collins, Pat Travers, and Jack Cassidy, to name a few. In addition, he boasts about playing equally varied styles, including pop, country, funk and metal. For someone so diverse, it’s a shame that his debut with The New Czars, Doomsday Revolution, is mostly filled with familiar heavy rock/metal which has grown stale over the last forty years.
Joining singer/guitarist Hampton is bassist Paul III and drummer David “Chill” Moreno. Their influences range from Todd Rundgren, NIN, the Beatles and King Crimson, but unfortunately none of that is evident here (well, Adrian Belew does lend some great guitar parts). The trio crafts a lengthy collection of songs that genre fans will probably like, but even the most diehard will have to admit it’s nothing new.
The monotony is broken up occasionally by trying new things, like the alt. rock “Time Stops” and the slightly orchestrated “Abstract Prague.” The title track has some nice harmony too, and “Only Dreaming,” the expected ballad, is a nice change of pace (although, as history has shown, genre fans might find it too sappy). “Funky Detour” lives up to its title, allowing the bass to lead the procession as synthesizers take a page from Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”. It’s definitely the album’s best track.
The main problem is that, save for these moments, you could pick any legendary hard rock act from the 1970s and you’ll hear their emulation throughout the record. Hampton’s voice ranges in pitch and power nicely, and the guitar work is impressive (if, like the songs, also clichéd). Paul III and Moreno follow suit with appropriate aggression and the trio, as a whole, play with one mind (which is always the sign of compatible musicians). For most of the record, though, there’s a constant feeling that it’s been done before and better.
The New Czars put some interesting moments and ideas into Doomsday Revolution. Had Hampton and co. made the entire album as eclectic as choice songs prove they could have, it’d be a much more relevant and worthwhile debut. For now, it stands as an EP’s worth of new experiences bundled with twice as many generic hard rockers. The point of having influences is to build upon them – not just copy them, and while this may be the sincerest form of flattery, it’s also an easy way to not stand out.