Saturday, April 30, 2011

WARRANT "Rockaholic"






(C)2011 Frontiers Records

1. Sex Ain't Love
2. Innocence Gone
3. Snake
4. Dusty's Revenge
5. Home
6. What Love Can Do
7. Life's A Song
8. Show Must Go On
9. Cocaine Freight Train
10. Found Forever
11. Candy Man
12. Sunshine
13. Tears In The City
14. The Last Straw

Robert Mason--Vocals
Joey Allen--Lead Guitars and Background Vocals
Erik Turner--Rhythm Guitar and Background Vocals
Jerry Dixon--Bass and Background Vocals
Steven Sweet--Drums and Background Vocals

Lead Singer Math can be an interesting equation in bands.  For example, lets look at the following story problems.  Van Halen minus David Lee Roth plus Sammy Hagar equals controversy, multiple platinum albums, radio airplay, MTV hits...and a loss of credibility with the hardcore fans.  Quiet Riot minus Kevin DuBrow plus Paul Shortino equals one smokin' record that no one listens to.  Skid Row minus Sebastian Bach equals an utter disaster on two abysmal records.  So what was to be expected when Warrant decided to do some Lead Singer Math of their own???
Well, for folks who follow the band, they already know that this is their second album with a different lead singer, as Black N Blue's Jamie St. James stepped up to the mic a few years ago for the Born Again album which, quite frankly, fell somewhat flat despite a handful of solid tracks.  The chemistry just wasn't there and a lot of the songs were filler material on what felt like a rushed attempt to get something out onto the market.  But The Saint returned to Black N Blue and Warrant was on the market for a singer again.  Enter Robert Mason of Lynch Mob fame (and Big Cock infamy).

Warrant's new album, Rockaholic, comes barreling out of the gates 100 m.ph. with the very catch, driving "Sex Ain't Love", followed by two more excellent tracks in "Innocence Gone" and "Snake".  All three of these tracks are hard rocking tracks that sound like a mixture of Warrant and Lynch Mob, which could be expected, I suppose...and the mixture works quite well.  In fact, I'm really liking this record at this point, which, to be honest, I was not sure I would be. 

The band throws the listener a bit of a curveball with "Dusty's Revenge" which is another one of those lower mid-tempo pseudo-cowboy type of songs not completely unlike Bon Jovi's "Dead Or Alive" or some of the stuff Poison or Keel has tried in the past, but Warrant does it heavier, and I think they pull it off well.  To me, it definitely has an "Uncle Tom's Cabin" type of feel to it, but it is a considerably darker song about violent justice and is one of the highlights on this album.   This is a song I think Mason's vocals really shine on, especially in the lower register, and I think this could be a killer track live. 

At this point Warrant steps on the brakes for no real reason.  "Home", which has power ballad written all over it could wiggle its way onto one of those "monster ballads" collections that float around the various artists sections of record stores, but it really disrupts the flow of the album, especially coming off the already decidedly slower but heavy "Dusty's Revenge".  I see lighters popping up all over the place if this song is performed live, so I guess it has its desired effect, and I think this is better than "Heaven", so not all is lost.

But the album doesn't pick back up from here.  Now would be a great time for another scorching rock track, but we stay in mid-tempo territory with a somewhat bland track "What Love Can Do".  Again, not a terrible track, but nothing overly exciting and by now the album is bogging down tempo-wise....with no end in sight!  "Life's A Song" is another mid-tempo snoozer and I am seriously needing someone to wake me up at this point.  It's not until track eight that Mason is able to open up the throttle on his screaming vocals with "Show Must Go On".  This is a great song, and I think it would have been a GREAT album closer, leaving the fans wanting more with a not-so-subtle message about the band.  This is one of the five or six best tracks on the disc and has my blood pumping and my head nodding (not nodding off) once again.  With a name like "Cocaine Freight Train" you have to know the next song is going to be a full-speed ahead rocker, and it is definitely that.  This song reminds me of something Lynch Mob might have done back in the day and is again, one of the best tracks here.
 
 
BUT THEN WE SLOW DOWN AGAIN!!!!  Why, why, why?!  "Found Forever" is another sing-along power-ballad type of song with a big hook and nice harmonies, and again, I know Warrant is known for this stuff, but enough is enough.  We are in obvious airplay mode here, which I know was important about 20 or 30 years ago, but no radio stations are playing these songs now, so is there really a need for this much slow material? 

"Candy Man" picks the pace up just a bit and sounds like an Extreme-type of track with the nicely layered vocals and quirky tempo, and it works well.  "Sunshine" has a bit of a modern feel to the production, but isn't terrible.  And then...you guessed it...ballad time again.  "Tears In The City" is a total waste of space on this disc and there is nothing redeeming about this track, in my opinion.  Skip material here. 

Album closer, "The Last Straw" is back to the uptempo side, but by this point I have lost quite a bit of interest.  Solid track, good vocal performance, nice little guitar solo, but
it's too little too late for me.

This album has some extremely good moments, a huge nap-time in the middle, and is hit or miss after about track 8 or 9.  If the band had cut out about four or five of these songs, and especially at least one of the ballads, this would have been a MONSTER of a record.  As it stands, it is still a good record, but it falls short of Dog Eat Dog or even Cherry Pie for me, as it is simply too inconsistent and too down-tempo for me.  That's unfortunate as when this album rocks it is excellent, and the couple of experimental tracks also really work well.  Mason is a definite keeper here and he does add a lot to the album.  In fact, withoug Mason, I don't think 80% of this record could have been pulled off, and neither St. James or Jani Lane would have been comfortable with most of the material here.  It's a good return, but not great.  Perhaps I expected too much, but with the hype that had surrounded this release, that was probably to be expected.
 
 
Rating:  Rock this at a 6.5, but if you can program in only the best stuff, it's easily and 8.

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