Although they are known primarily for being in one of the biggest and best hard rock and metal bands in the world in Godsmack, drummer Shannon Larkin and guitarist Tony Rombola both share a passion for the blues. So much so that they formed a band in order to pursue their passion along with bassist Brian Carpenter and vocalist Ray “Rafer John” Cerbone called The Apocalypse Blues Revue.
The band has just released their second album and follow up to their self-titled 2016 debut, “The Shape of Blues To Come.” The new record opens with the slinky, almost eerie groove of “Open Spaces,” the beginning of which was heavy and had an almost Doors’ vibe to it. Vocalist “Rafer John” has a voice that was born to sing the blues and his grizzly vocals are a standout throughout the album. Like a lot of blues songs, “Hell To Pay” delves into the question of good and evil, darkness and light, a personal crossroads much like the late great Robert Johnson sang about so many years ago. The track that really stood out to me is “Have You Heard,” a great upbeat, danceable tune that takes you back to the juke joints of old. It has a great line that “Rafer John” absolutely kills it on, “Have you heard the news, the Apocalypse is coming and it ain’t your daddy’s blues.” It is simply perfection. Without the confines of a traditional rock song, guitarist Tony Rombola is free to explore and rediscover himself musically and for that reason alone, you’ll want to check this record out. There’s also a lot of great things going on rhythmically as bassist Brian Carpenter keeps the bass lines grooving and slinking while drummer Shannon Larkin shines with his shuffle beats and swishing ride cymbal. “Noumenal Blues” is a short track that closes the album. The song has a quiet, somber feel to it before going silent midway through, allowing a pause before Larkin takes over for a wild solo to finish it out.
“The Shape of Blues To Come” is a must listen for any fan of the blues and for rock and metal fans it offers a perfect opportunity to explore something a little different and check out the roots of the music they love. They say the blues is a true calling and if so, The Apocalypse Blues Revue is answering, loud and clear.