Album Review : The Casanovas – Reptilian Overlord

Review by Peter Coates –

Reptilian Overlord

The new album from The Casanovas was released in late August – their first release since the 2015 Terra Casanova – and 20 years after their debut single 10 Outta 10 was released to the world.

As stalwarts of the thriving Melbourne rock’n’roll scene, with influences coming equally from punk and blues as well as the more straight up classic rock bands, The Casanovas are not obviously an “Aussie-rock” band, as they have been able to meld some British and US rock influences into the mix which makes them more accessible internationally, and provides a sound that both retains the energy and rawness of the earlier records, but adds a little bit more spit and polish.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the ball-tearing opener Hollywood Riot which was released earlier as a single, and while capturing everything we love about The Casanovas from the past, also boast an epic chorus, hooks galore, a ripper of a solo, and energy to burn!  The band remains a trio, but with lots of guitars evident from the mix, and Outlaw features more of a 1970’s classic rock vibe, that shows off some punk roots as well – not a million miles away from early Motorhead.

Another solid rocker in Cold Day in Hell features some tasty licks from main man Tommy Boyce, while long-time member Damo Campbell and new boy Brett Wolfenden just lay down the most solid of backings on bass and drums, allowing the guitars to flesh out the song with multiple layers and textures, without sounding over-produced.  With the legendary Mark Opitz (AC/DC, The Angels, Cold Chisel, INXS, The Divinyls) running the desk and producing the album, there must be some nods back to those classic Australian bands, but without ever losing the Casanovas honest gritty sound.

There is a real old-school sound to Lost and Lonely, and a roughness to the vocals that is paired with some massive harmonies, and a series of dazzling guitar lines running over and around the solid main riff.  The drums, cowbell and sneering vocals of Stand Back is pure Melbourne rock’n’roll – the sort of track that have influenced the likes of Dead City Ruins, Massive, The Mercy Kills and the Black Aces to name just a few of a host of quality rock bands.

The blistering riff that opens St Kilda is Fucked is a homage to the “good old days” of the gentrified beach-side suburb that was once home to a less desirable crew – the lyrics have nailed the issue, and the song itself is a belter!  The mid-section features a whole bunch of anarchic chaos that builds up and works itself into a frenzy before Boyce lets rip with a blistering solo before the main riff kicks in on overdrive under another chorus!  An anthem of the COVID-19 era perhaps!

There is a melancholy feel to the riff for Mid Life Crisis which matches the depressing tone of the lyrics, but retains the band’s overall sound, in particular in the harmony lines in the chorus, and certainly motors along driven by a jangly guitar melody.  It is more pop-punk than heavy metal, but doesn’t feel out of place on the record.

AC/DC and Airbourne spring to mind as the guitars of Red Hot kick in, although they are paired with that cleaner guitar sound favoured by Boyce which adds an extra dimension to what could be a pretty standard sound.  Another catchy chorus, some great drumming, and a wailing solo keep the party going!

Bulletproof blasts out of the speakers with a dirty grungy riff, some great accents, and the highlight solo of the album.  To be honest, the guitar work in every part of this track is top-notch, and when the double-time beats kick in and the solo explodes, accentuated by the Opitz fantastic production, it all goes to another level.

The opening riff to title track had me scratching my head for a while – before I recognised the similarity to the opening bars of the crushing Diamond Head track Sucking My Love, but this is not plagiarism but just a comparable bit of guitar work, which leads in to the verse and chorus of Reptilian Overlord, which is another stand-out rocker, at 5.45 long, with enough riffs in it alone to complete a pretty solid EP on its own.

The band told The “Great rock’n’roll has rock and roll, it has light and shade, it’s gritty but it has finesse and musicianship, it’s tough and mean but is not afraid to be sweet sometimes, it has melody, it has groove, it’s honest but it has humour, it’s fun, and it doesn’t slavishly try to fit into any kind of category. The Casanovas are a rock’n’roll band and Reptilian Overlord is an unselfconscious expression of our love of rock’n’roll in all its glorious forms.”

This is a great release from an honest and hard-working rock’n’roll band which has been a long-time coming – and deserves the chance to get out there and play this live and loud around their home country.  Roll on the chance for us all to experience that!



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