If you thought heavy rock was going through a bit of a slump, then the former members of Black Country Communion are here to rekindle the flame. Formed when Jason Bonham and Glenn Hughes got together with guitarist Andrew Watt, California Breed are unashamedly traditional in their approach. Hughes has been around, with stints in Deep Purple and replacing Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath for a spell in the 1980s. Not to be outdone Bonham spent 2007 in Led Zeppelin, playing in place of his dad at the Celebration Day show. With CVs like those, the bar is obviously set high.
What you get is a solid collection of loud, hard songs. Hughes’ screaming vocals on ‘The Way’ are a pointer of things to come. Along the way are nods to all the genre heavyweights: the heavy riffs and Plant-like wail of ‘Chemical Rain’ are a bit Zeppelin-y; ‘Midnight Oil’ is The Stones viewed through a pair of hard rock aviators. Watt shows plenty of skill on the frets: ‘Days They Come’ is so riff heavy it’s surprising it manages to get to the end and carry a solo, while Bonham handles the pounding rhythms easily. The fleeting changes of pace like ‘All Falls Down’ are soon eaten up by the noise of the next track (the mildly average ‘The Grey’ in this case). As skillfully put together as it is, there’s nothing terribly original about California Breed, but fans of the format - and the musicians involved - should be pretty satisfied.