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Good for what it is, but lackluster. - 58%

hells_unicorn, December 1st, 2008
Written based on this version: 1995, CD, Sony Music

To get the obvious out of the way immediately, this is not a metal album, by any stretch of the imagination. Anyone who approaches this thinking otherwise is definitely going to hate every single minute of what he hears, there’s just no getting around it. But to put forth a somewhat less obvious fact to some not well versed in rock genres, this is not anywhere near a grunge or alternative rock album either. As best as I can articulate it, this is a slightly heavier and darker hybrid style of the hard rock of the early 70s and the progressive rock of the late 70s, in the case of the latter, mostly the non-keyboard oriented material.

In truth, most of these songs are pretty solid and seriously intended, which is more than I can say for the repulsive fit of artistic Dadaism that followed this in “Shadowlife”. They carry a variety of differing influences, ranging from David Bowie and T-Rex to less likely sources like ELO and occasionally early Black Sabbath. The songs tend to be either mid-tempo or moderately fast, the guitars are not quite as crunchy and ear drum shattering as the power chords on “Tooth And Nail” were, and mostly sound like a middle ground between the punch of heavy metal and the mud of stoner rock.

George Lynch has elected to elaborate his riffing formula a little bit, as his riffs under the more vocally and lead guitar dominated incarnation that they used to be were extremely formulaic, in order to fit this new sound. His leads, by contrast, have been simplified down to a sort of bluesy brand of shredding, with the speed and virtuosity of a Stevie Ray Vaughn or a Ritchie Blackmore, but the sound and character of whoever was playing lead guitar for The Cult back when they released “Sonic Temple”, an album which is fairly similar to this.

There are a lot of pretty solid songs on here, in a fairly varied collection of styles. Most of it falls under the dark rocking style alluded to earlier, be it catchy and riff happy rockers like “Inside Looking Out” and “Long Way Home”, or sweet and serene ballads like “Nothing Left To Say”. “Too High To Fly” would also be a pretty solid song as well if they didn’t drag it out so damn long. The leads also get a bit sloppy, but that’s to be expected from this style of rock music.

I can understand why people would like this, and I also understand how people can utterly despise this. Personally the truth of this album is somewhere in between the two, symbolizing the musical confusion that was so widespread at the time. To this day the band has never really been the same since switching to this style. Whether or not this is worth picking up or note depends entirely on your tastes, but most metal fans should probably look elsewhere in this band’s catalog, preferably earlier.