Red Dragon Cartel

fish head cantina | 7/23/15

By Jay Oakley

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First off, no one has been harder on Red Dragon Cartel then I have. A lackluster performance at M3 followed by an OK, at best, follow up a few months later.

On this night, I felt RDC delivered a much better show. A new lineup consisting of former Lynch Mob and Ace Frehley bassist Anthony Esposito and singer Shawn Crosby brought a cool change and energy to the experience. I found Shawn’s vocals to be a much better fit, stylistically, to the music that was being performed. From Ozzy classics like “Ultimate Sin,” “Shot In The Dark” and “Bark At The Moon” to RDC songs like “Feeder,” “Shout It Out” and “Wasted” as well as a nice take on Badlands’ “Dreams In The Dark.”

While I still feel like the band has a bit more of that nostalgia feel more then a true band I have a new found excitement behind what may come in the future. This has a lot to do with bassist Esposito. His presence and pairing with Jake was very noticeable and brought a partnership and camaraderie to the band. I’m curious about what’s to come and it looks like there may be more RDC merch in our future then I previously thought.

Fish Head Cantina | 12/20/14

Any new band that has any ties to the classic 80s hard rock scene is going to have a lot to live up to. Especially if you are going to be the band representing former Ozzy Osbourne and Badlands guitarist Jake E. Lee.

I looked forward to this show for quite a while because eight months ago I saw Red Dragon Cartel at M3 for the first time with a lot of hype behind them and all they delivered was hype. No substance and a major disappointment after delivering a very solid quality record in their self-titled debut.

When it came to the set it was good. Opening with "The Ultimate Sin" and closing with "Bark at the Moon" delivers a fan frenzy with everyone singing every word. Jake has lost little over time and still stood out as the focal point as he should. The problem is he stands out from a band that can't hold his weight and that makes the performance an eye sore. Having Greg Chaisson from Badlands replacing Ronnie Mancuso on bass made for a cool Badlands nostalgia performance. However, the biggest issues were Red Dragon Cartel has a series of songs that are very clear covers of Ozzy and Sabbath songs with new lyrics and then there was the band’s voice. Darren James Smith is more like a cartoon character then a singer and front man. D.J. has a vocal style that doesn't work well with Ozzy songs and he has an incredibly awkward way of interacting with the fans. Hopefully he'll eat a big piece of humble pie and the whole band can shape up and give Jake the band and respect he deserves. Buy your merchandise now because they might not be around much longer.