Hailing from San Francisco rather than Mount Olympus, it is difficult to review an album by rock act The Golden Gods. Why you ask? Simple...should one judge originality or actual talent?
In terms of talent, The Golden Gods have it in spades. Every single song on The Thorny Crown of Rock and Roll manages to be almost abnormally catchy and the guitar riffs are all over the frets as riff after riff is thrown at the listener. Drummer Rick Davis isn't sitting on his arse either; his mix of straight rock drumming and surprisingly serious cowbell is every bit as solid as Simon Scott's guitars and Dan Trilk's bass lines. Simon in particular is amazing; he manages to display almost unnaturally talented vocal range all the while playing some of the most solid rock 'n roll to be created since bands like The Datsuns and Jet brought it back into vogue. While some bands like Jet merely emulate the bands of yore, they lack the level of ability to truly capture the power of rock and fall short of say Humble Pie or maybe even a little Grand Funk Railroad.
On the bad side is that the Golden Gods imitate the hard rock of the 1970's greats so well that it becomes a fluent mish-mash of said bands that always seems vaguely and annoyingly deja-vu, perhaps too much so. I really don't mean to be harsh. This CD, for example, makes excellent party and/or driving music. Technically, the band are the top of the modern rock heap. In terms of actual sound, something just seems a little odd. I like how say "Even I Don't Know" or "Dynamite Lady" sound, what with their sing-along choruses and hit the road riffage, but something about this screams repeat performance.
"Funny Lookin' Man" has this amazing set of swaggering riffs and a hand-clap chorus near it's end, and the mindless arena rock posturing of songs like"Rock 'N Roll Salvation Pt. II," "Un-Ltd. Baby," and "Trouble and Bad Women" will be guranteed to bring a smile to almost the most callous rocker's face. On the bad end, "Midas Touch" is seven minutes of funk-influenced torture. The song is so cheesy you could melt it on your pizza, as it has a gaggle of ladies proclaiming over and over again (like the drops of water torture) 'he's the man y'all.' The band can do the whole "let's jam about an awesome lady" with the song "Stone Fox" that has some sweet riffs going for it. The disc also features a very buff ending track in the short and concise rocker "Test the Fire."
If you like 1970's rock, you'll probably wouldn't mind trying on the Thorny Crown at all. For other rock fans, be a little wary. At first listen, this disc will sound like the greatest thing since sliced bread. At second listen, one realizes sliced or not, bread is still bread. The Golden Gods never reinvent the wheel, but no one ever asked them to either. If that doesn't bother anybody, then plenty of people have some great hard rock waiting for them at their record stores.