March 15, 2023, a year ago

(Three Dog Music)

Greg Prato

Rating: 7.0

review hard rock the winery dogs


The guitar-driven rock styles ‘shred’ and ‘boogie’ don’t usually go hand and hand, right? Wrong. The Winery Dogs’ third release overall, going by the imaginative title of III, proves that both decidedly opposite styles can indeed merrily/safely coexist. Comprised of singer/guitarist Richie Kotzen, bassist Billy Sheehan, and drummer Mike Portnoy, the trio continues on in the direction of their earlier offerings (2013’s self-titled debut and 2015’s Hot Streak) – Zep-like grooves, Chris Cornell-ian vocals, etc. 

But unlike most shredders or virtuoso instrumentalists, the importance of penning memorable tunes rather than showing off their skills is what drives the Dogs – as heard on such standout tracks as the album-opening “Xanadu” (not to be confused with the classic Rush tune of the same name), “Mad World” (the album’s first video), and hard rockin’ yet melodic tunes that have a slight ‘80s flair to them (“Stars,” “The Red Wine,” etc.). 

And while both Sheehan and Portnoy have (rightfully) long been considered masters of their respective instruments, the ‘MVP award’ has to go to Kotzen – although thought of first and foremost for his six-string skills (due to early in his career being marketed as a shredder, via Shrapnel Records) he is undoubtedly one of the more underrated modern day rock vocalists, as proven throughout III.

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