Sound — 8
I'll break the album down song by song: 01. Critical Acclaim - this album kicks off with ominous sounds of organs and quick guitar solo, before moving into pummeling drums and noisy guitar bends. The main riff of the song is simple but fairly strong, something easy to headbang along with. so far so good, the spoken word parts give Shadows a platform to rant about his hate for the liberal media. The guitar solo is thrown in after the bridge, decnt but nothing overly inspiring, The singing is better n this track then it was on the previous album 02. Almost Easy - again the song opens with a guitar solo, and a quick crushing riff that I can't help but think I've heard before. The rest of the song is ok, easy to see why they picked it as the first single, singable chorus and a good rhythm. Guitar solo is more fun than the last song, but the sweeping runs seem to be thrown in at random, the secondary solo sounds better, the bridge is the most singable part of the song. 03. Scream - here we open with a woman screaming and a very heavy riff (kinda remainds of of Hellyeah's Star, except there's an awesome picking run that accompanies it), the pre chorus riff is very groove worthy, the song has kind of a sexy vibe to it, more so than anything they'd released before, I can see this song being the next tune to be released from this album. The guitar solo in this song fits better than in any of the previous two tracks, and a lead line continues playing under the bridge which sounds really good. So far it's the stand out track on the CD. 04. Afterlife - this track opens with a string section and you kind of expect something slower paced, until the guitars come in, another opening solo, this one is the best sounding so far. First time I've been able to hear the bass on this album in on this track. the riffs are ok on this track, nothing to call home about. the vocals are more varied on this track. The chorus is insanely catchy. The riff in the verse seems to sound better the second time through. the strings come back in about half way through the song for the bridge, it actually sounds really nice, minus the additional vocals, it ruins the feel of the bridge. Another guitar solo that seems to follow the same formula of fast run, slow run. oh well at least they changed things up and added another fast run and a whammy dive. the laughter after the solo kind of ruins the songs sort of sombre vibe. Good track but had potential to be the best song on the album. 05. Gunslinger - here's a change, we open with an acoustic guitar and some slide playing and not a guitar solo. The most original song on the album so far, his vocals fit in with the acoustic and slide vibe perfectly. the chorus comes in and sounds suberb, especially with just the acoustic playing. The heavy riff comes in and it's so far the simplest and best sounding riff of the the album, his vocals switch to fit the electric vibe, and it works. The chorus is still catchy, singable and sounds really good. The bridge goes back to an acoustic vibe, and it sounds fantastic. The guitar solo doesn't seem out of place and actually fits the vibe of the song fairly well, nothing unecessary or too flashy, very well put together. This is the best put together track on the album. 06. Unbound (The Wild Ride) - kicks off with a lead guitar line and some fun drumming, piano accompanies the singing in the verse, very pretty and kind of flashy. The chorus has some really interesting guitar lines played in it, to give the impression of a roller coaster, very clever. The second verse sounds like the piano and guitar trade off being flashy underneath the vocals. No real guitar solo but the amount of lead guitar in the song over prety much the whole song makes up for it. the song goes out with a what sounds like a little girl singing, adds a very creepy vibe to the song at the end, to accompany the piano. 07. Brompton Cocktail - the song fades it with what sounds like feedback, or a sound effect and into a decent riff. The riff becomes slower, and during the verse we get some strings which sounds super. The vocals are quite good on this track. The singing is enhanced by the additional vocals in the mix and the string section. The tempo for this song kind of gives the song tension, which really enhances it. The guitar solo is drenched in wah and kept short, which is a nice change. I can't help but eel there's something missing from this song, but I'm unsure what, something just prevents it from being a stand out track. 08. Lost - opens with some lead guitar lines, which then harmonize, which is standard for these boys by now I'm sure. The rest of the band kicks in and we're off and running as the drums keep this track at a quick pace. The singing style doesn't suit the track as well as it could, not that it's out of place, but it doesn't fit completely. The chorus has a vocal processing effect, which sounds weird at first but actually really enhances the sound, it's different and it works for this tune. underneath the processed vocals is a really cool lead guitar line and decent drumming. After the second chorus it goes into a guitar solo, which sounds harmonized again, and it works well. The bridge uses the vocal effect, but not as apparent as it is on the chorus, the chorus has a great solo being played over it as the song ends. Really this song is pretty good, definitely worth a listen, the vocals have to be heard to be appreciated on this one. 09. A Little Piece Of Heaven - this tracks starts off with horns and piano, and has a very ominous feel to it. Kind of has, I know it sounds weird, but a Hitchcockian vibe to it, well Hitchcock meets carnival music. Songs tells a really twisted story, the strangest song on the album, sounds like nothing they've done before. the strings come back before the 2 minute mark. For such a strange song the chorus is very melodic and has a very lighters in the air and sing along with the band vibe, which is not the vibe the rest of the song has. Oddly enough, it works in a very stange way. I think it's a testament to Shadows singing ability that this song works, it switch betweeen style with the music, his voice is the centrepiece of the song and he holds the tune together quite well. There's an additional female voice on this track and she seems to work well with Shadow's, and I guess their plan on throwing everything and the kitchen sink into this track. now it sounds like a church choir in this, and a voice that sounds oddly like marilyn manson playing the priest in this narrative track. This song is a marathon at 8 minutes long with so much going on in it. Really the strangest song on the album, and the weirdest part is how very little guitar playing you can hear in it. 10. Dear God - another song that starts off with an acoustic guitar, might even be a twelve string and some slide playing again. clearly this albums power ballad, the vocals fit the song really well, and this song will prbably be a single, as I'm sure this song will be a hit with the ladies and guys who want to have sex with ladies. the song has a sort of country vibe, and there is clearly a banjo playing in the chorus, which is just friggin awesome. more female vocals accompany shodows, but for no real purpose. The song is 6 and a half minutes long, but the last time you hear singing is at about 4 and a half minutes, the rest of the tune is guitar soloing, but it's pretty tasteful considering the type of song. I'm almost tempted to say thay this is kind of like a tribute to freebird, with the unecessary outro guitar solos.
Lyrics — 8
01. Critical Acclaim - it's their foray into the politcal lyrics sphere. This song will surely get them an invite to Gov. Arnold's house in California, as it takes a decidedly republican stance on how the dastardly liberal media and celebrity protesters are douche bags for not supporting the war in Iraq and basically dumping on America's current republican adminstration. Lyrically it's actually pretty good, and the Shadows sounds awesome in this track. 02. Almost Easy - the first single and the I'm sorry I screwed up your life track. The vocals sound really good in this track, but lyrically it could be better, particularly the repetition of "I'm not insane". I feel it takes away from the song. The additional vocals during the chorus are really well done, and the bridge saves this track from mediocrity. 03. Scream - the sexy song in my opinion. The vocals, rifs, and lyrics give the song a really sexy kind of groove. The song is pretty much about banging, or killing broads, but that's really not as sexy. Though there is kind of a vampirism vibe to the lyrics. 04. Afterlife - the first of probably 5 songs on this album that deal with god, or the afterlife in some way shape or form. Song about dying prematurely with what I assume is his significant other. The chorus is really heartfelt, a sort of "its not my time, but when it is I hope you'll be here for me", mind you during the chorus he may even talking to god, asking for a stay of life, it's not my time, to be here but I hope to get back. I really like this song as the vocals and lyrics are really well done here, but the laughing after the guitar solo ruins the vibe the song had. 05. Gunslinger - the soldier at war who's coming home tune. The vocals and lyrics mesh well, and the song is really quite sad. God and prayer are mentioned in this one, this song is really well done and is still a highlight on the album. Doesn't break any new ground with these lyrics, but it's a brilliantly crafted tune. 06. Unbound (The Wild Ride) - this track seems to be about the importance of independecne, and how no one can hold him down. mind you it deals with it better than other tracks do. basically it's about going through life and learning to take things slowly. Live without fear and do what you have to do seems to be the overall lyrical theme. the choir in the song is a nice touch, as is the little girl at the end of the tune. 07. Brompton Cocktail - if Critical Acclaim got them an invitation to have an audience with the Republican party, this track will get them thrown out. Dealing with a fairly heavy topic of the right to die (mind you Death already played this card already). Lyrically this a good tune and the themes of God, Death and the afterlife come back into play here, with the protagonist of the song being convinced that god will forgive him when he dies, as his death to this illnes is inevitable. Assisted suicide a heavy topic and probably the most touchy topic on the album, but it almost makes for the best lyrics on the album. 08. Lost - this track kind of remains of the Wick End from the last album. This track kind of has a we are still doing things wrong here, there's still war and people doing bad things. This is the song with the vocal processor and it sounds really good. The song is a huge a downer with the feeling that our crappy selves are bringing about the end of the world 09. A Little Piece Of Heaven - this song is vastly messed up but has a fairly comprehenisble narrative arc. Guy loves girlfriend, guy is paranoid and doesn't want her to leave him, guy kills girlfriend, guy violates corpse and keeps her around so he can continue to violate corpse. Girl ends up in hell, comes back from the dead, kills boyfriend. They have a sort of reconciliation after killing one another. They have creepy unholy union in hell, and are now apparently a pair of murderous spirits. The vocals are really what make this song work, honestly Shadows vocals are the glue that holds this 8 minute cut and paste song together 10. Dear God - the power ballad, very much in the vein of Home Sweet Home, Nothing else Matters and I Remember You. Old story, singer on the road misses his missus, asks God to make sure she's ok while he's not around, nothing new or groundbreaking but a sweet heart felt tune, cause I think he has to include at least one song about his girlfriend on every album.
Overall Impression — 8
They said it wasn't going to be another Waking The Fallen or City Of Evil, and they were right, it's differnt from both. It's more melodic than Waking The Fallen, but it's more focuesed and polished than City Of Evil. Standout tracks are Gunslinger, A Little Piece of Heaven, Lost, Bromton Cocktail and Critical Acclaim, but there's no really a bad song on the album. I am a fan of the band, but I think this was a really well put together album in spite of that. I think if I wasn't already a fan, I'd be a fan after this record. Some things could have been done better, but they took a few risks on this one, and really they stand out better when they try something new. I think the guitar playing and drumming was more focused on this album and the vocals were done better, his voice isn't as nasal as it was on the previous outing and there was more variety in his vocal style. I like the album, not the best album I've heard this year and there's nothing groundbreaking about it, but it's a solid effort and better than most of the stuff that's been released in this calendar year that were supposed "must have". Solid album and well worth the money.