The latest album by the self-proclaimed ‘anti band’ otherwise known as Soldier’s Of Fortune, is a rejuvenation, perhaps even a reinvention of the knuckle clenching classic rock genre that has fallen out of luck in the mainstream scene as of the last decade. With big distorted guitars, screeching vocals and high octane drum patterns, will the album hit the market with heavy metal thunder, or is it destined for a pitiful sizzle and pop?
Straight from the outset ‘Nails’ offers a Led Zeppelin-esque rhythm very similar to the sounds of the early 70s. Unfortunately, it also sounds like the album has kept the authentic, but outdated production quality of old too; gritty yet muffled and a bit too rough perhaps for a modern audience. Nonetheless the vocalist has lungs that provide an incredibly satisfying melody very reminiscent of Wolfmother whilst also having the rough timbre of a young Chris Cornell, praise indeed by any stand point. Killer guitar solo too that carries the song until the end which is key to really give presence to the album from the get-go, especially if you are appealing to the classic rock audience.
The next track, my favourite off of the record, combines all the elements needed for a rock anthem. A memorable lyrical hook, fun guitar progressions that don’t delve too far from the standard and simplistic but toe tapping drumming; very Steppenwolf. Throwing all these comparisons of big names around surely must be a good thing right? It’s a refreshing track that would fit perfectly on any Sunday driving compilation CD whilst also having enough individuality for the replay value that again is crucial in this genre.
The next four or five tracks don’t hit as strong for me… I understand why they would try and feature so many singers, but when you aren’t a mainstream mammoth you are going to want to promote your own sound and not anyone else’s. The backing accompaniment I have no complaints for, it adds variation and even a nice tempo twist that makes the record sound more detailed than just a mixture of similar old rock riffs. Even though the singers that were roped in do a great job, especially Ethan Miller with his great performance in ‘Dog Tooth Down’, I still found myself missing the singer that impacted me on the first two tracks with his impressive ability.
However it doesn’t end there, when the singer does re-join the mesh and the next track ‘Santa Monica’ comes on, my disappointment only consisted further. Again I like the accompaniment a lot with a very ACDC-inspired riff and solo placed well in there, but the spoken word vocals I found pretty cringe worthy and in all fairness lazy. All this song needed was big vocal hook smacked in there over the psychedelic areas of the single and this could have been a favourite but sadly becomes quite the opposite.
‘Fatigues’ hits next with a summer rock influenced guitar strumming pattern and finally some singing again (last song dragged much more than I thought it would). There are some guitar licks in here that I thought were significantly weaker than the rest of the album but this is expected when you’ve already placed about 7 minutes of guitar solo on the album. Forgettable but easy-to-listen to when flicking through on a casual listen.
The drums get a mini showcase in this next one changing the tempo up again; still simplistic by an instrumentalist’s perspective, but to music fan it’s all fun stuff. Matt McAuley sings on this one and AGAIN is another singer that does a great job but I still AGAIN I find myself wanting a bit more of that unique blend that pulled me in at the start. The guitar licks pick up in this one so that is an added bonus to the record but the riff is a bit bland for my liking.
If you haven’t noticed already, I haven’t commented on the bass at all throughout this entire record. The reasoning behind that? Well that’s because it is hardly noticeable at all due to its incredibly uninventive note strumming that I feel really takes away from the songs I even found myself humming. If I were to give one piece of advice coming off this instalment, it would be to add some bass lines in there that get the heart pumping and give a new dimension to your classic rock image.
To round off the album we are given another track that is similar to the last I just commented upon. Decent guitar decoration, competent vocals and all round a well-structured song just AGAIN lacking that individuality! When the song finished I found myself split on my opinion of the album as a whole. It is ambitious and it does contain techniques and ideas that bands either haven’t used for decades, or are too safe to even contemplate using. But those techniques are the eventual downfall for the album in retrospect. If they only featured one or two songs on the album that featured different vocalists then I could be right behind that and happy with the thought of variation and the attempt to progress their music outside of expectancy. But they overuse it way too much and lose any charm that they were building from the start of the record.
5/10 – Great potential, poor execution