First things first, the band name, Lizhard, and the album cover. What are they all about?
They both suggest that they are at the heavier end of the spectrum whereas the reality could not be further from the truth. Take Manowar for example, there is no confusion as to what they offer. Here, you expect a cannonball but get a tennis ball. Still reasonably hard but not THAT hard.
Lizhard formed in Italy in the mid-90’s and Bigger, Better, Stronger is the band’s second studio release. On Perris Records, it follows up their self-titled debut of 2008, so they’ve had plenty of time to hone their skills.
To be honest, after the first listen I couldn’t really take to this record from the 5-piece. I felt it lacked substance, depth, and heart but after a couple of more goes it’s definitely filed under “grower”.
Take the first song, for example, on a first listening, it appears to have nothing going for it. With a poor title, “Funkytown” trudges on a bit with no chorus to speak of and an unremarkable solo. Now, however, I find myself foot-tapping like a good ‘un while I’m composing this. There are some things in life you just can’t explain.
It’s always dodgy in my mind to have two songs next to each other with similar names, it upsets the flow somehow. On this occasion, however, it doesn’t disrupt the momentum and “Downtown” is a good medium paced rocker, this time with a decent solo.
The promo info compares their work to that of Whitesnake but if that’s the case it’s definitely the late 80’s version of big hair and soft tunes rather than the classic blues/rock of the late 70’s.
Track 3, “Rock n Roll Is Hard To Die”, features the first of several guest appearances on the album, this one being Paul Shortino of Quiet Riot fame. Shortino brings his gravel-voiced style to the song which makes for a refreshing change, though usual vocalist Mario Mosca does have a decent voice of his own. It’s a bit formulaic but once again it ends up being quite the singalong.
“Leave Me Alone” starts off quietly leading the listener to believe it will be a bit of a slow one, but it builds up nicely to a strong chorus and enjoyable solo.
“Urban Cowboy” doesn’t set the world on fire then “Gettin’ Tighter” follows which has the next notable appearance, this time from Marco Mendoza of The Dead Daisies, Thin Lizzy, and Black Star Riders. His contribution includes extra vocals and a 15-second bass interlude, which was, er, different.
Eight songs in and we have our first proper ballad, with “All I Want Is You”. The bass provided by Luca “Ze” Moroni is ultra cool here and far more prominent than in all the other songs. Nice lyrics with a good sentiment in a song deserving of a quality solo, which we are fortunately treated to.
Like London buses, you wait ages for a ballad then two come along at once. “Hard To Say Goodbye” has more of an edge than “All I Want Is You” but it is still a ballad. Sung with emotion aplenty and with a beautiful solo these are the two stand out tracks for me.
“And Now…….Take This!” gets us back on the rock track for the penultimate time. It has a powerful start and carries on in that vein with great pounding rhythm provided by Moroni and drummer Ricky Lecchini.
To finish a generally polished outing we have what could prove to a tricky affair. Few have succeeded in writing songs named after the band. Iron Maiden pull it off and Motorhead doesn’t count. “Lizhard” starts out as a nice tale of how the band came about but it loses impetus and resorts to spelling out their name letter by letter. That is never good.
Overall Bigger, Better, Stronger contains no surprises but has its moments and if anybody fancies easy going medium rockers then this could take your fancy.
As it turns out their name is derived from the first name of a previous singer (Liza) and the genre they play. Well, they’re half right I suppose…….