Gygax - 2nd Edition

Gygax 2nd Edition cover
2nd Edition
Creator-Destructor Records
I was completely flummoxed by this Ventura, California “good-time” heavy rock quintet’s moniker until a buddy jocosely pointed out it’s named after Gary Gygax, one of the original creators of the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons (the dorky MA band photo readily alludes as much!).
Not only is “Gygax” a lot of fun to say out loud, but its sophomore full-length, aptly titled “2nd Edition” and released last week on 12" vinyl under Creator-Destructor Records, also constitutes bubbly and jovial side-stepping fare which, while not as thematically deep as we’re led to assume, pleasantly makes the most of its swift half-hour length distributed over eight non-committal and radio-friendly cuts competently lathered with a fresh coat of Thin Lizzy worship.
Line-up wise, original guitarist Bryant Throckmorton is joined by fellow ax man Jeff Potts now that John Armand Lizzy moved on to Night Demon, whilst Ian Martyn has squeezed his merry way in on keyboards, with ex-Huntress member Eric Harris picking up where he left off as the gregariously laid back front man and bassist. Rounding things off is “Minnesota” Pete Campbell, who served up a solid performance on Pentagram’s latest, “Curious Volume”. While it’s certainly an interesting mix of characters, I find Harris’ charming happy-go-lucky vocals highly suitable to the band’s upbeat and easy-street rhythms, which are founded on loose, bluesy guitar riffs, budding bass lines and jazzy (as well as unforced) drum beats.
As apparent as the Thin Lizzy overtones are, I also sense a massive resemblance to Norway’s Magick Touch, despite the latter ascribing to a much wider array of influences. Nevertheless, I feel I prefer this release over the latter’s “Electrick Sorcery” as it feels more compact and focused. Alternatively. I was slightly nonplussed on first listen as the better part of “2nd Edition”’s first half sounds very “samey”.
Worth noting, however, is how a few later tracks poignantly stick out from the mold “Wish” grippingly starts off with a cosmically soulful and transcendental keyboard intro overlapping a wickedly poised cymbal beat, brooding bass line and liquefied guitar lick before settling into a confidently cruising cadence reminiscent of Johnny the Fox era Thin Lizzy, while “Heavy Meddle”, with its mellow and smoky, saxophone imbued cabaret vibes, conjures images of Kansas City’s Merlin, which has also recently discovered the joys of horn inclusions. This last’s languidly flowing and warm guitar licks/leads are yet another sweet feature, whereas my favorite track is undoubtedly the revved up and razzle-dazzle closer, “Second Wind” – easily the “heaviest” thanks to its increased tempo, crotch-punching bass line, forceful saloon evoking piano hits and Harris’ toughened up, knuckle-cracking delivery. In fact, it’s worth gleaning the album alone for!
I don’t have that much more to say in regards to Gygax’s “2nd Edition”, as “Twisted_Psychology” (MA reviewer) efficiently summed it up. Personally, I think I prefer the harder-hitting (and more “traditional heavy metal” as opposed to “heavy 70s rock”) 2016 debut, “Critical Hits”. Nevertheless, there’s nothing wrong with giving this a leisurely spin, whether you’re on the go or simply kicking back at home with the headphones on.