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Album Reviews : Tim "Ripper" Owens – Play My Game

By on June 14, 2009

ripperTim “Ripper” Owens is a voice that the majority of the heavy metal community will instantly recognise. Having been the voice of Judas Priest, Iced Earth, Winter’s Bane and most recently Yngwie Malmsteen, he has certainly proved his vocal talents to the world. Now, Ripper is going one step further with the release of what is being advertised as his first solo album, ‘Play My Game’, to prove that he can write as well as well scream.

Now, I’m not entirely sure of how “solo” this album really is. Bob Kulick (KISS), Chris Caffery (Savatage), Mike Callahan (ex-Earshot) and John Comprix (Beyond Fear) all had writing input, with Owens only actually writing 5 of the 13 songs entirely on his own. Seeing as Ripper and Comprix shared the writing of Beyond Fear’s 2006 album, it almost sounds like that was as much a solo album as this one is. On top of that, the amount of guest appearances on this album is gigantic; Jeff Loomis (Nevermore), Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath), Dave Ellefson (ex-Megadeth), Michael Wilton (Queensryche), Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake), the list goes on. Now I’m not doubting Ripper’s own writing skills here, but it’s just interesting that while trying to prove that he can stand on his own, he has released what looks more like an all-star album than anything.

Anyway, onto the actual music. To be honest I was expecting nothing more than another uninspired Beyond Fear album here, but thankfully this is a huge improvement with the variety increasing tenfold. The writing is just more interesting, with a broader range of musical influences and vocal melodies. That’s not to say it’s a complex album; it’s still based around simple heavy metal principles with a fairly consistent mid-pace throughout and the choruses clearly being the focus. This is as classic heavy metal as it gets. But the heavy groove of “The Light”, the bass-based “The World Is Blind” and the nice variety of guitar solos break the album up a bit, and stop it from becoming overly monotonous (the main problem with Beyond Fear). The musicianship is top notch which you would expect from such experienced musicians, the sound is nice and heavy but not overly exhilarating and Ripper is at the top of his game vocal-wise.

But the problem is once again that it sounds that bit uninspired. Ripper has proved (with the help of some friends) that he can write solid heavy metal songs, but that’s really all they are. Apart from a handful of songs, there isn’t much that sounds authentically fun and exciting. Songs like “Believe”, “It Is Me” and “To Live Again” are really only saved by his voice, throw in any lesser vocalist and all of a sudden they are just dull.

‘Beyond Fear’ was two really good songs and a myriad of filler. ‘Play My Game’ is a reasonable handful of great songs but with a few fillers dragging the overall album down. It’s better than I expected, that’s for sure. Ripper fans are going to get a kick out of this album and enjoy finally hearing him sing something of his own but half of these songs will be forgotten five minutes later.

If I’m in the mood for some of Ripper’s vocals, then ‘The Glorious Burden’ will still be my album of choice. 6/10

For fans of: Judas Priest, Beyond Fear, Black Sabbath.

Band: Tim “Ripper” Owens
Album: Play My Game
Year: 2009
Genre: Heavy Metal
Label: SPV/Riot! Entertainment
Origin: USA
myspace.com/timtheripperowens

Track listing:
1. Starting Over
2. Believe
3. The Cover Up
4. Pick Yourself Up
5. It Is Me
6. No Good Goodbyes
7. The World Is Blind
8. To Live Again
9. The Light <- Reviewers Choice
10. Play My Game
11. Death Race
12. The Shadows Are Alive

About

Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.