Love and Scars is a wonderful album full of heavy tracks that are sonically reminiscent of King’s X but with a more personal vibe.                                                    

Love and Scars
Artist: Jerry Gaskill
Rat Pak Records
12 tracks / 57:03

The second solo release by former King’s X drummer/vocalist Jerry Gaskill is called Love and Scars, and apparently he’s had plenty of both. With brief and sometimes obscure lyrical references to such major themes as God, sickness (Gaskill has survived two heart attacks), and emotional issues, Gaskill’s lyrics mostly center on everyday life. One song, “Sandy,” is not about a girl but is about Hurricane Sandy, the storm that destroyed Gaskill’s home and wreaked havoc on millions of us in the northeast: “she’s coming in to make her rounds,” sings Jerry, “Better off if we don’t stick around.” It’s that kind of double-meaning lyric that makes the songs intriguing and puzzling at the same time.

The musical backdrop should please any King’s X fan, with strong, fuzzed guitar chords, searing solos, thick, fat bass lines, and signature vocal harmonies. Partnering up with producer and co-writer D.A. Karkos (who also supplies acoustic and electric guitars, bass guitar, back-up vocals, and percussion), Gaskill’s drums are powerful and driving throughout the twelve tracks. Various friends contribute guest performances, including Phil Keaggy, who plays a four-star solo on “Paradise.” Those who go back far enough (early 80s) might remember the days when Gaskill and fellow King’s X member Doug Pinnick backed up Keaggy on tour – ‘seems things have come full-circle.

If there’s a revelation here it’s just what an excellent singer Gaskill is. His sense of harmony and his phrasing are polished and informed by sixties-pop and his drumming is metal-influenced with plenty of respect toward heavy classic rock. His inner-Lennon emerges on songs like “Girl in the Warehouse” and the Beatles influence recalls the qualities that first hooked so many of us as we listened to King’s X – it’s the sound that’s all over the somewhat trippy “Paradise.”It’s all about metal with melody, pop with power, passion, and thunder. It’s that strong melodic sense and the particular sound of Gaskill’s voice that transforms what would otherwise be just another heavy rock project into something much more interesting. It worked for King’s X and it works on Love and Scars.

Love and Scars is a wonderful album full of heavy tracks that are sonically reminiscent of King’s X but with a more personal vibe. There are powerful, ponderous pieces, slow, bluesy jams, and hints of psychedelia, Beatles-style. If you need an hour of the heavy stuff, but with style and taste, Love and Scars should fit the bill nicely.

-Bert Saraco

3 ½   TOCKS