Gygax – 2nd Edition (2018) REVIEW

You can’t (fairly) compare a band to a legacy artist like Thin Lizzy without being ultra specific. The early 70’s psychedelia, the late 70’s Gary Moore stuff, the Brian Robinson/Scott Gorham shared legacy, or the Snowy White/John Sykes 80’s metal ventures? I’m partial to ‘Johnny the Fox’ and ‘Thunder and Lightning’ and generally skip through the rest. It sounds like Southern California D&D themed rock band Gygax are partial to ‘Chinatown’ on their second full-length ‘Second Edition’. ‘Chinatown’ was a turning point for Thin Lizzy‘s bluesy hard rock sound and by replacing Gary Moore with Snowy White they brought in a fresher, clearer mind to their guitar work. It was a politically charged album admirably led by Lynott despite his drug abuse reaching an all time peak. ‘Second Editon’ captures the smooth late 70’s metallic sound of Thin Lizzy and the warmly personal Lynott-isms of ‘Chinatown’ with modern stoner rock production.

Reading up on Gygax I’d built up expectations of some kind of post-Slough Feg joke metal meant to cheaply appeal to tabletop game nerds, so the Zeppelin-esque riffs and smooth-assed dual-guitar Thin Lizzy-isms were a minor shock. In fact Gygax aren’t heavy metal warriors doing Manowar poses and all that nonsense, rather they’re massively easygoing guitar rock. This was an awkward discography for me to experience because I discovered it in reverse. Jumping back to their 2016 debut ‘Critical Hits’ I could definitely hear the 70’s metal/hard rock influences but less of the sharply honed Thin Lizzy emulation found on ‘2nd Edition’. Going even further back to the spiritual successor to this band, Gypsyhawk, I noticed that they’d made a similar shift across two albums. On ‘Revelry & Resilience’ Gypsyhawk cranked the smooth-groovin’ rock louder than the heavy metal riffs. Digging backwards gave me stronger context for Gygax‘ sound and style and how it represents an evolution of key musicians involved in both projects.

My taste leans so heavily towards what Gypsyhawk was doing on that second album that I found myself leaning back towards that record and former guitarist Armand Anthony’s trad metal band Night Demon instead of Gygax. Though I will say this is a truly refined evolution beyond those albums for Metal Blade. You can’t argue with the the hooks of “It Makes It Worth It” and the sleepy, radio-ready “Pure Hearts” and the even more blues-chilled “Heavy Meddle”. I still don’t understand how the Dungeons & Dragons theme fits into the mostly personal lyrics and 70’s rock sound but ‘2nd Edition’ is a solid, incredibly well produced Thin Lizzy influenced rock album. And since I didn’t get to talk about D&D much: I had AD&D: DeathKeep on the 3DO and still think it’s better than AD&D: Slayer.

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Artist Gygax
Type Album
Released March 16, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!  Follow Gygax on Facebook
Genres
Hard Rock

Straight from the mage’s mouth. 3.5/5.0

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