|Hard Rock, Rock ‘N Roll
July 2nd, 2013
Release length: 59:43
While the audio quality here is pretty crisp, the music itself sounds a bit empty at times, keeping with the analog feel of sixties to seventies Rock ‘n Roll groups. Of course, the lyrics are largely about booze and women, but there’s nothing wrong with that for early, somewhat grittier Rock music. But then there’s the vocals, which end up the biggest album destroying gripe to be had. This is pretty obvious right from the start when harsher shouting that’s meant to be harmonized kicks in, becoming more and more horribly off-key, and most of the time incredibly obnoxious. Picture the way Buckcherry handles the shouting, but with a rougher Exodus touch, and even more out of tune with the catchy music, throwing most of the material off when they are pushed to completely ridiculous levels.
“Long Legged Woman” has plenty of potential to be a solid track. The focus on drums in some spots with clean singing over them works wonders to create a little tension in the sense of story telling, and when it picks up around the chorus, the music is upbeat and catchy. It does show another flaw within the group, which is the horribly weak, distant, and completely uninterested background vocals and chants that clash with the enthusiastic cringe-inducing harsher lead vocals entirely, and not in any positive way. There’s also “Scotch Drinker,” which makes for a solid drinking song in many ways. The music itself has a catchy galloping rhythm with simple hooks that really bring in an upbeat vibe that will make you want to throw on some cowboy boots and order your favorite shot at the dimly lit and unkempt bar down the road. And then the vocals go overboard ithroughout, leaving you ordering more and more to try and drown them out or make them sound mildly enjoyable.
Thankfully, there are some songs that are actually any good, and they all start aorund “The Real Deal.” This shows a good range in the vocals and a great deal of restraint as well. The harmonizations are far more on key with this song, and the bakground chants are a little more energetic. This is a great thing because the richer music and upbeat bass line is simply infectious to the point where your head will be bobbing along to some of the Blues inspired riffs and atmosphere whether you want to or not. “Drinkin’ Margaritas” has some off-key leads as well, but, again, they are held back a bit so they aren’t that obnoxious. Even at their worst, you can look past them and enjoy the fun mid-tempo bass-heavy Rock song that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. There’s nothing too complex here either, but some bridges, or just randomly at times, you’ll notice a nice little technical riff thrown in for good measure.
“Addicted to Rage” is a fun, catchy track that shows the same restrictions as the previous two mentioned, and it sounds really good. This time the focus is on the guitar, which has a nice guitar solo towards the end that amplifies what the song had been building up to most of the time. There’s no Blues touch to this one, instead replacing that kind of vibe with a much grittier, even dirty Southern Rock performance that makes a solid closing song to any live performance.
If 42 Decibel didn’t show a good deal of restraint, especially in the vocals, Hard Rock ‘n Roll honestly would have been an absolutely unlistenable recording. The first few songs show some promise in the music that all the vocals end up destroying shortly after they begin. With a little restraint and additional effort, the vocals started sticking on-key, and weren’t so painful to sit through. From “The Real Deal” and on, the album becomes a solid piece of nostalgic Rock ‘n Roll any fan of the style will enjoy. Unfortunately, it becomes a little too late, and doing so three songs in is definitely nothing to be proud of.
01. Scotch Drinker – 6:17
02. Smokin’ Fire – 2:57
03. Long Legged Woman – 5:41
04. The Real Deal – 5:00
05. Take Me – 6:53
06. I’m Gonna Give You All – 5:48
07. Drinkin’ Margaritas – 5:25
08. Addicted to Rage – 5:09
09. Born to Ride Alone – 3:43
10. Rocker Soul – 4:18
11. Drunk Love – 5:04
12. Gimme a Drink – 3:28
|Initial Pressing Score: 5.5/10