Cauterize Review

artist: Tremonti date: 06/22/2015 category: compact discs
Tremonti: Cauterize
Released: Jun 9, 2015
Genre: Alternative Metal, Hard Rock, Speed Metal
Label: FRET12
Number Of Tracks: 10
"Cauterize" has Mark Tremonti coming into his own as a vocalist, as well as debuting Wolfgang Van Halen on his first studio release with the band.
 Sound: 8
 Lyrics: 7.5
 Overall Impression: 8
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reviews (2) pictures (1) 48 comments vote for this album:
overall: 8
Cauterize Featured review by: UG Team, on june 15, 2015
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sound: Tremonti was formed in 2012 by Mark Tremonti as a vehicle to record and release the music he was writing that wasn't appropriate for his existing musical projects at the time. While he intially stated that his solo work would be a "thrash metal" project, it has instead turned out to be heavy rock with strong elements of speed metal - not quite crossing the line into the realm of thrash metal. Brian Marshall left the newly formed band in 2012 and was eventually replaced by Wolfgang Van Halen, son of EVH, first just on live dates but eventually declared a full member of the band by Mark Tremonti, who has also praised Wolfgang's prowess on bass several times in interviews. "Cauterize" is the band's second full-length studio release, with 10 tracks that clock in at 44 minutes. The album is being released on the FRET12 label. The first official single from the album is "Another Heart," which was released in March 2015. The second single, "Flying Monkeys," was released in May. According to interviews, the album was recorded simultaneously with another album which will be released, possibly titled "Dust." The release date of "Dust" has not been confirmed.

The album opens up with the track, "Radical Change," which is basically an immediate audio-assault from the second the track begins. The opening lines, "please just one more chance, I've just failed again/ question everything, never understand," caught my interest and show this song (like most of the album) have an introspective quality to the lyrics. "Flying Monkeys" is the second single from the album, and has some of my favorite riffing on the album, which is very heavy on the groove. The title track, "Cauterize," is one of the heaviest tracks on the album and makes me immediately reconsider whether this album could be called thrash metal instead of hard rock. There is some interesting (unconventional) lead guitar work going on with this track, and then the track ends with a clean instrumental outro that wasn't what I expected from Mark Tremonti. "Arm Yourself" is pretty fast and heavy out the gates, and has some interesting wah/ phased stuff used sparingly on the track. Once again, I found myself surprised by a slower passage in "Arm Yourself." "Dark Trip" opens up as a slower, cleaner track - even when the guitars get heavier, the tempo stays pretty slow and the heavy guitars act almost like a drone of distortion as a backdrop to the lyrics and the acoustic lick being played through much of the track.

The lead single, "Another Heart," is a quirky track with some tempo changes going on and some really deep stuff going on with the lyrics on this one. This track has probably the most memorable riff from the album, as well. "Fall Again" is a kind of oddball track, with the opening being some reversed delay before Tremonti's vocals come in with a lot of reverb and a mostly clean strummed guitar. The guitar sound gets heavy and HUGE on this track, with the line "I think I lost my way... you think it is so easy?" sticking with me after the song closed out. "Tie the Noose" opens with some fast, heavy riffing that is more familiar to me as far as what I expect from Mark Tremonti. The guitar solo from "Tie the Noose" is a kind of reminder of what I'm listening to - a phenomenal guitarist's "side" project - which is easy to forget when you hear the songwriting and vocals going on with this album. "Sympathy" is a softer track, relatively speaking, and much more of a vocal track than a guitar track. The album closes out with the track, "Providence," which oddly enough is my favorite track - it isn't what I would have expected as my favorite track going into this album, but I really enjoyed the progression, lyrics and composition on this one. Overall, the album is well-mixed and the material has a lot of variety in it. // 8

Lyrics: Mark Tremonti's vocals are SO much better than on his previous album - he has seriously grown as a vocalist. His actual vocal style reminds me a little bit of Myles Kennedy but without the annoying high pitch whine. The vocal performance is spot on for the album, and the vocal processing used is done in good taste and seems to add value to the songs. Eric Friedman and Wolfgang provide backing vocals, and the fact that they don't really stand out is a good thing on this album, I think. Not saying anything about Wolfgang or Eric Friendman's vocals, only that their backing vocals are only used to add emphasis to vocal lines, etc.

As a sample of the lyrics, here are some from the single, "Another Heart": "It's a shame you sold your lies before God/ What our eyes have seen, or have you forgot/ Where's your values, were they all thrown away/ Where's the reason you will suffer today/ Hard on the brain/ Tear at the walls to find it/ Toss it away/ Find me another heart/ Break the inside/ Hurt in a way you'll like it/ Eager to find/ Find me another heart/ Learn a lesson from the words that you speak/ Feigned forgiveness 'cause the wounds are too deep/ The end's a lonely place and now it is here/ Live your final days alone with your fear." Those are some very introspective lyrics - I wonder if they have anything to do with the drama with Mark's ex-bandmate, Scott Stapp. // 8

Overall Impression: Honestly, the weak point on this album to me is Wolfgang - and I hate saying that because I've been rooting for him, in general. I think he's in a weird predicament where it looks like he got his gig with Van Halen by the band arbitrarily replacing Michael Anthony and he really needs to prove his chops. I think he definitely did that with Van Halen if by no other means than being motivational to his dad and uncle. When I heard live Tremonti recordings with Wolfgang I wasn't impressed, but I thought that was partially because he was coming into songs that had already been completed and recorded by another bassist. What I found with "Cauterize" is that Wolfgang does truly play bass like a rhythm guitarist (as has been said), which unfortunately does a disservice to the music. Moving on, I felt like the album had a lot more sonic variety than I expected, and I found myself impressed with things I wasn't even expecting from Mark Tremonti. A few examples were the deep and introspective nature of the lyrics, some of the softer and slower passages, and the awesome vocal performance. I think this is a serious improvement from his last album, and I look forward to hearing what he does next. I'm patiently awaiting to hear "Dust," or whatever the next album ends up being called. // 8

- Brandon East (c) 2015

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overall: 7.7
Cauterize Reviewed by: irishdragon, on june 22, 2015
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sound: Foreword: Throughout this review I'll pretty much be comparing this album to the latest Alter Bridge album "Fortress." Why? Because a lot of the riffs from this album were sort denied from Alter Bridge and also because, let's face it, if you're doing a solo album you should (in my opinion) be compared to your best work. Especially if it was from so recently. Did I mention it's the same producer, Michael "Elvis" Baskett?

The production on this album is pretty freaking incredible. Everything is crisp and clear and of course has more to offer the more you listen to it. The backing vocals supplied by Eric Friedman and the newly introduced Wolfgang are phenomenal. Soaring highs from those two, and the gritty/in your face vocals from a refreshed and confident Mark Tremonti. I'll get more into that in the Lyrics section. I just wanted to point out how well those harmonies are mixed in a fashion that doesn't overpower Mark.

The guitars are insanely heavy sounding. The riffs are insanely tight as to be expected from Mark and the gang, though a little simple. I'll give Mark this; He said something along of wanting to put in all his influences: thrash (duh), death metal, black metal. He notes specially bands like Celtic Frost and Mercyful Fate. Of course the album sounds nothing like either of those bands, but you can definitely feel him sneaking in some patterns of the previous mentioned. Also if you get to listen to the title track, don't tell me that verse isn't straight up Maiden. Nice job. Anyways, back to the simpleness of the riffs; that was sort of to be expected since the previous Tremonti album was similar in that way. Though to be honest I was hoping for something a bit more dramatic and semi-progressive. The last Alter Bridge album was such a huge stepping stone in terms of song-writing and I was hoping for some tracks that really make you analyze for weeks on end to truly understand a song. At the same time I think Mark perhaps wanted a more straight-forward album that just made you want to thrash around. Or in my case skip his most recent show in NY to give students a final... Anyway... what I am definitely disappointed in is the solos. We all know Tremonti's got them chops on the fretboard! This is your chance to show if off man! Half the songs don't even have solos. I'll point out that "Tie the Noose" has a pretty sweet section in it, and so does "Another Heart."

Overall I'm feeling this album in a good way, but was really waiting for that one track that just made me feel a sense of epicness, in an almost power ballad way, but with that dark feel that "Blackbird" would give you. Enter "Providence." The final track on the album. This song begins with Tremonti's showcase clean tone with a beautifully mysterious progression. Then this crazy powerful lead line kicks in along with the drums and heavy guitars. Right then and there, you can feel this is going to be that track to really suck in. One of my favorite tunes, but note quite the top. Which I'll get into now in the lyrics section. // 8

Lyrics: So the lyrics have a lot of talks of wars (not literally, more like struggles of human life), coming to grips with one self, maturing, and the "sun." Yes the sun. That word is mentioned in... hang on I'm counting... 3/10 songs. In my opinion that's quite a few. Tremonti must love the sun. It's also in a lot of Alter Bridge song. Alright I'm done with my sun rant... The lyrics all in all are similar to the riffs; straightforward with some variations that delightfully throw you off, or just straight up get in your face and make you love it. This is where my favorite song comes in. "Arm Yourself" has probably the most repeatable riff in the album, and a really simple composition. That doesn't deter me from absolutely digging the vocals on this track. Talk about Mark stepping up his game. He throws in so many variations of his voice in just the first verse. If you really give it a listen you'll get some Myles Kennedy, some southern rock, some punk rock, and more. Just in one verse. That's awesome! Here's some lyrics:

"They say a man who fears will suffer twice
The fear has surely died
I throw a curse right into the rising sun
Today this will be done"

Truer words have been spoken, but damn it if they haven't hit as hard as this before. Really fun song. I'll also throw in another nod towards "Providence." Really great lyrics in there, as well as the lighter song "Sympathy." // 7

Overall Impression: I think for this album, you gotta take it as it is. Mark and the boys trying to create a thrash metal album with vocals that only Mark himself can deliver. And it does so. It's obviously a little lighter in terms of "br00talness," but this is definitely a thrash album. Cliche as it may be, it's very similar to something like "Ride the Lightning" or "Master." A nice mix of heavy down picking and tremolo's alongside some powerful down-tempo tracks. I'm still enjoying it and haven't found myself wanting to take the CD out of the car. All in all it just makes me more excited for the future of the next Tremonti album. Hell, ANY album that Tremonti is going to be in I'm excited for. The guy just keeps getting better. As long as he keeps going I can see limitless potential. // 8

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