CKY has been around for quite some time and has seen it all. Not to mention along the way they have made some pretty serious fans. After all, only Metallica, Deftones and even Guns N’ Roses have all personally invited CKY to join them on tour!
After releasing their first album “Volume 1” all the way back in 1999, CKY have also released another three since then: “Infiltrate•Destroy•Rebuild” (2002), “An Answer Can Be Found” (2005), and “Carver City” (2009). However, it has been a long time between albums for CKY fans. Correction, had; as that’s no longer the case.
CKY, which consists of Chad I Ginsburg (Vocals/Guitar/Synth), Mike Deis (Backing Vocals/Bass/Synth) and Jess Margera (Drums), have all come back after an eight-year recording break with their new album, “The Phoenix”. It was recorded in the well-known Rancho De La Luna Studios (best known for the “The Desert Sessions” in 1997). Rancho Del La Luna was founded by David Catching (current touring member with The Eagles of Death Metal, amongst other numerous credentials) and the late Fred Drake, is located in the Joshua Tree desert, California. Even though “The Phoenix” follows up “Carver City” chronologically, it’s more of a spiritual successor to “Infiltrate•Destroy•Rebuild”.
Replaceable kicks off “The Phoenix” with just over a 20-second dual sync intro, before Margera’s drum kit and Ginsburg let out a groan, kicking the song into action. Ginsburg’s voice sounds like it has been in the lead role since day one, sounding amazing and refreshed. The lyrics in the chorus, “You need attention, You’re replaceable” sounds beautiful as you have both Ginsburg and Deis singing in perfect harmony together. Throw in another verse showcasing the vocal talent of Ginsburg, plus a small guitar solo over the drums, and then chugging bass that leads off the last third of the song, makes you realize just how much you’ve missed CKY. The syncs come out again in full force alongside Margera’s skill, leading into the final rendition of the chorus and thus marking CKY’s return.
The second track on the album, Days of Self Destruction has such a much lighter sound to it than Replaceable. It starts off with soft guitar before Ginsburg’s voice steals the show. Excluding its use as a backing in the chorus, there is minimal use of synth throughout the song; however, at the halfway point there is a small synth-led breakdown. The insane guitar-led outro is the loudest part of the entire song and suddenly fades out to nothing as quickly as it originally appeared.
Changing tempo for the third time on this album, Unknown Enemy is a very reggae/funk style song. Ginsburg’s voice is the driving force behind the song, with the softness in his voice setting the mood; it easily sounds like it could have been recorded on by barefooted people in Hawaiian shirts on the beach! It’s a nice change to the previous two songs, as it’s really refreshing and easy on the ears.
Following the previous track, Head For a Breakdown starts out very melodically. Margera’s drums make their presence known when they kick in and Ginsburg shows off his voice again in this song very relaxed and clean throughout the entire song. The vocals are very raw and emotional: “I know the feeling / when I get too high / get too high / and I head for a breakdown”. It’s an emotionally resonant part of the chorus. A nice guitar solo/drum duel adds a bit of an energy lift to the song before toning it back down as the outro ends with Ginsburg almost whispering the final rendition of the chorus.
Another change of style comes in to play with The Other Ones, sounding David Bowie-influenced with the synths taking the lead for most of the song. Ginsburg’s vocals also sound very much like David Bowie, with that slight whispering exaggeration at the end of each lyrical line. Two-thirds of the way through the song, Margera’s drums make a small lead appearance leading into more synth and the last chorus. Very minimal lyrical content this song.
Wiping Off The Dead highlights the return of distorted, chugging guitar and heavier sounds that we heard all the way back on the first track. Ginsburg throws in his signature grunts before his vocal talents are nicely accentuated with an echo backing. It provides a nice, steady, chugging guitar throughout the song; baring the chorus when it takes a back step to the vocals. It would be very fun to experience the mosh for this, as the high energy throughout the song – plus the guitar solo before the last chorus – will most definitely have multiple circle pits whipped up in no time. We can’t forget about the mini-anthem chant in the middle which will make for solid crowd interaction at any live shows in the future!
Nice, light chugging guitar and drums welcomes you to Lies From You before we’re welcomed to both Ginsburg and Deis opening the vocals in a nice little gem. It’s a very neatly polished and well-constructed track all round, with a slight style/tempo change taking just over halfway through taking it through to the end.
Coming in as the longest track on the album by 21 seconds, Better Than Get Even is also the final track, unfortunately! It starts out with a chugging guitar before it changes into this nice melodic harmony with steady drums and distorted guitar playing second fiddle to the vocals. A small guitar solo bridges into the second verse; the vocals a mixture of being whispered and echoed slightly. “If you’re looking for a war, I’m here to fight” opens the chrous and is most definately another great way to get crowd interaction at a live show! A synth/drum bridge takes us through the start of the last third of the song through to the end of the album, with a small guitar solo thrown in for good measure.