Dame Fortune – The Secret Art (2009, independent release)
- In Like Flynn
- Perpetual Motion Machine
- If You Will, Not When You May (You May Not When You Will)
- Holly Fenton
- The Days Are Just Packed
- A Special Place
- Santa Ana Blues
- I Only Miss You When I Breathe
- The Edge
- V For Vendetta
- Secret Rulers (Of The World To Be)
- Good For What Ails You
- Hikikomori (Live As Though The Day Were Here)
David Blake – Guitars & Vocals
Jeff Wire – Bass & Vocals
Mike James – Guitars & Vocals
John Merritt – Drums & Vocals
Producers: Dame Fortune & Kevin Valentine
Total Time = 45:41
Hollywood, California has produced a ton of Hard Rock bands over the last three decades and Dame Fortune is another Hollywood hopeful that are making their name by getting back to the roots of Hard Rock. THE SECRET ART is the band’s third release and what the band calls “an expantion of their sound and lyrical themes”. I haven’t heard the other two releases but it’s obvious from listening to this album that KISS (specifically Ace Frehley) has to be a major influence along with other ’70s Hard Rock superstars Aerosmith and Ted Nugent. Everything isn’t completely dated because I can hear some ’80s influence as well from Frehley’s Comet, a touch of Guns “N Roses and maybe a little bit of Quiet Riot.
Opening track ‘In Like Flynn’ has a dirty Hollywood street sound with a catchy chorus but I was immeadiately drawn to David Blake’s vocals because he sounds very similar to Ace Frehley, hence the KISS influence! The second song ‘Perpetual Emotion Machine’ is the vocal debut of bassist Jeff Wire and he has this Gene Simmons style vocal. Talk about a KISS influence! This song sounds like mid to late ’70s KISS from DESTROYER to LOVE GUN. The piano and guitar tones sound like ‘Christine Sixteen’ in some parts and the experimental side of Simmons on his KISS solo album. The influence is almost too obvious and, even though the song is catchy, I’m completely distracted. ‘If You Will, Not When You May’ again sounds like an Ace Frehley song with Blake’s vocals and the guitar tones being so obvious but, if you listen closely, you could almost hear Ted Nugent in his more melodic stage.
In true diversified style, Dame Fortune spreads the vocal duties around and, like bassist Jeff Wire, drummer John Merritt gets in the act by making ‘Holly Fenton’ his vocal debut. ‘Interlude’ is a 7 second intro to ‘The Days Are Just Packed’…..if it’s 7 seconds, why make it a song? Moving on to ‘The Days Are Just Packed’, more Ace Frehley here and it’s distracting. This could fit on any Frehely’s Comet record or maybe it’s a new Ace tune from his forthcoming ANOMALY record? Who knows but for some reason I like it, it’s a melodic and catchy song with a thick main riff. One of the heaviest and more original songs on THE SECRET ART is ‘A Special Place’, a song that is an angry message to drug dealer. Here’s the seedy side of Hollywood creeping in to Dame Fortune’s music and I think it helps the music kind of like GNR used their squalor and rebellion to create their debut. Another highlight is ‘Santa Ana Blues’, a heavy Bluesy guitar driven song that has a touch of Terrible Ted along with the evil swagger of Alice Cooper. ‘I Only Miss You When I Breathe’ makes it three solid songs in a row with another guitar driven strut that GNR had back in the day. Great lyrics on this one and the title is very clever.
I’m not really digging ‘The Edge’, aside from the guitar the song sounds like it’s all over the place and the chorus doesn’t sound like it fits the music. ‘V For Vendetta’ is, according to the band, “a tribute to Alan Moore’s amazing graphic novel”. I’ve never read the novel so I can’t comment about that but the song is heavy and different from other songs on the album…..there’s still that Ace Frehley vocal style that has me distracted again. ‘Secret Rulers (Of The World To Be)’ has a catchy guitar riff but that’s pretty much it but Dame Fortune saves some originality for ‘Good For What Ails You’. It’s a Led Zeppelin influenced ballad that breaks things up nicely and shows that the band can branch out and do something a little different. I’ve heard better ballads but, in the context of this record, it’s one of the better songs. Ending THE SECRET ART is ‘Hikikomori (Live As Though The Day Were Here)’, a song about the youth of Japan standing up for themselves and taking control of their lives. You could probably call this another ballad because it’s definitely a slow song with a few quick flourishes at the chorus to keep it interesting. I would have liked to hear this song or ‘Good For What Ails You’ sequenced in earlier in the album to break-up some of the monotony.
I’m on the fence with this record. I’ve played it a lot because half the songs are pretty good and I can’t believe the uncanny similarity between David Blake’s vocals and Ace Frehley’s. Seriously, you could have taken some of these songs and put them on any Ace album and you would be hard pressed to tell the difference. And there’s the problem…..it’s obvious where Dame Fortune’s influences lie because they mimic them very well but they also are able to create some interesting songs from those same influences. I could go either way and cal THE SECRET ART a decent album or call it a bad copycat or a record…..half the album sounds original, half sounds like KISS/Ace Frehley solo. There’s definitely talent here but I think they need to find their own sound and expand it more.
‘Perpetual Emotion Machine’, ‘The Day Are Just Packed’, ‘I Only Miss You When I Breathe’, ‘A Special Place’, ‘Good For What Ails You’, ‘Santa Ana Blues’