Sound: The new CD from Anew Revolution -- a group that includes the likes of former Unloco vocalist Joey Duenas and ex-members of Slaves On Dope -- has an accessible rock quality that will be both a blessing and a curse for the group. On one hand, you can definitely hear a Saliva-like quality to some of the more anthem-like tracks on the CD Rise, but that only takes you so far. While there are some catchy choruses, and more impressively, solid guitar work from Shaun Stockton, in general there aren't enough songs that leave you blown away by the album's finish.
The opener Done should be one of the tracks that is more than likely to find itself popping up as the theme to a future WWE event. The tune in general has a rock anthem quality and is one of the most memorable tracks on the CD. It's the perfect song to start off the record, and it's satisfying to know that the band includes a prominent guitar solo in it. Stockton's talent as a lead guitarist is immediately obvious, and thankfully Anew Revolution allows him to solo at will.
The quartet, rounded out by bassist Frank Salvaggio and drummer Rob Urbani, run into problems when the songs get stuck in the same place musically. There's nothing wrong with a power-chord driven song, but there are times when the songs just feel like the same thing we could get with any of the Saliva-like bands out there, and usually it's not as good. Saddest Song has some synth and drum track elements briefly, but it ends up feeling a little uninspired. When the band finds their sensitive side, the results are even more discouraging. Let Go is a heartfelt track, but musically it just doesn't stand out.
Anew Revolution is in its element when it attempts to get a little more aggressive. California Burning is the standout track, simply for the fact that it feels much more passionate and metal than any other track on Rise. Duenas' vocals really seem to excel when they hit growling mode and it works perfectly for a darker track like California Burning. Even cooler is the fact that Stockton's soloing has a bluesy element that almost sounds like Slash at times. Every Stockton solo takes the song in a new direction and is usually the highlight of the track. // 7
Lyrics: The themes aren't the most original on Rise, and lyrically things tend to get a bit stale. A good example is the song Rise, which delivers lyrics that you've probably heard in some incarnation before. Duenas sings, You won't get the best of me; You will watch it as it all falls down; Hey you, stand the f--k up and rise; I'm not afraid. For some listeners it might be the most inspirational track ever, but these are lyrics that have been written time and again. // 6
Overall Impression: While Anew Revolution has written 11 songs that will appeal to those who are just looking to get a little aggression out or perhaps hum along with a catchy chorus, there is room for improvement. The talent is there, and it would be worthwhile to have Stockton show off his skills a little more in places other than the solo. He is so impressive in the solos that it would be fantastic to hear a little of that creativity injected into the verses as well. The band does deserve credit for pulling off a solid cover of New Order's True Faith, however, and it shows Anew Revolution can think successfully outside of the box. // 7