Label: Frontiers 2011
Review by Alan Holloway
This is an odd little album, coming as it does after the rather good Extreme album “Saudades De Rock”. The difference here is that vocalist Gary Cherone has brought in a new set of musicians to play with, including his guitarist brother Mark, whom he says he has wanted to write an album with for a long time. Fair enough.
“Hurtsmile” kicks off very positively, as “Just War Theory” sees them crank it up and deliver a punchy, cool uptempo track that would fit nicely on any Extreme album, with Cherone sounding scarily like John Lydon at times, although much better, naturally. The Extreme-ness continues with “Stillborn”, which shows off the Cherone brothers funk sensibilities very well, and also that Mark is a pretty damned good guitarist. You get the feeling more and more that this is a protest record, mainly protesting about man’s inhumanity to man. “Kafue (Infidel)” is about beheaded by the Taliban journalist Daniel Pearl, whilst “The Murder Of Daniel Faulkner” closes the album by telling a moving Dylanesque tale of the murdered Philadelphia cop.
This is definitely a record of two halves, as the first half jumps in your face with some excellent high energy funk rock (as well as a gorgeous ballad in the shape of “Painter Paint“), whilst the second heads for a more eclectic destination. The acoustic, funky and rather gospel “Jesus Would You Meet Me” would fit into any modern day church revival meeting, all happy clappy and horrendously catchy to an Atheist (it’s always sort of embarrassing to be caught singing along to something like this, but what the hey). I’m not at all keen on the reggae version of the opening track, which seems like a bit of a needless indulgence, whilst the overlong ballad “Beyond The Garden (Kicking Against The Goads)” doesn’t half go on a bit, but everything else is pleasingly done.
This is an unusual album with enough of the familiar to draw in and capture Extreme fans, sprinkled with a flavour of originality and soul that will give the listener that little bit extra that doesn’t come from your bog standard melodic rock release. Gary Cherone sounds great throughout, and there’s a feeling that this is a very personal record, albeit one that should find plenty to share the messages within.