Record Review - 1 July 31 2002

Chris “Y2J” Jericho smelled what rock is cooking. So the onetime Undisputed World Champion and four-time Intercontinental Champion followed the slightly beaten path out of the wrestling ring, teaming up with members of Stuck Mojo to form budding heavy metal legend Fozzy.

According to the group’s self-conceived bio, Fozzy’s Happenstance marks its return to America after an oppressive 20-year contract with a crooked Japanese label. Although the boys found themselves trapped in Japan, their music made its way off the island before they did. For years, they watched helplessly as Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and others stole their songs.

While Fozzy winkingly claims they’re metal pioneers, they’re really a cover band, a humorous tribute to the metal dinosaurs whose posters hung on the members’ bedroom walls as teenagers. And their studious idol-worship has paid off. Fozzy rocks in a giddily nostalgic way, with Stuck Mojo members abandoning their usual rap-core style to supply plenty of intense licks.

The band even has genre heavyweight Jon Zazula’s stamp of approval. His Megaforce label — which launched the likes of Venom, Metallica and Anthrax in the early ’80s — released Happenstance. And while Fozzy doubters may take issue with Jericho’s iffy metal credentials, he delivers his aggressive wrestling banter with impressive Axl-like shrieks and Ozzy-type yowls.Fozzy plays the Masquerade Fri., Aug. 2.