HardReviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Warrant - Born Again

It's a downer when Warrant sorta quote their glory days, as in the rap vocal of opener Devil's Juice, and the blues switchback of Dirty Jack. Something happens later too, which I forget now, but it's a downer too. And there's a standard hair ballad, just this side of pompous toward Zeppelin, the brakes put on before Slaughter, Black Crowes and Kik Tracee terrain. Plus new singer Jaime St. James (from the frankly friggin' superior Black N' Blue) says "heart attack" one too many times. Other than that, Warrant turn in a serviceable album that is hard hair metal all the way, great guitar sound, nice grooves, bright and party-hearty drums. Sure, a bunch of the songs are just sort there and almost a parody of hair metal, but dig through it, and you'll find a gaggle of charmers, like Love Strikes Like Lightning, Down In Diamonds and Good Times, with its inspirational, totally hooky chorus. As well, this is a bright, sunny album, shining glammer than you, harmonies of both the guitar and vocal variety hither and thither, the best of Ratt and Dokken and Icon and other hard hitters from before Warrant's time pleasurably in the stew for a nostalgic trip that may not have even been intended. Personally, my favourite Warrant stuff was from the lost alt.metal years - maybe Dog Eat Dog too - but I'm kinda digging this unapologetic jump at fun. Solid graphics too, which has oddly been a falling down point for records by hair bands since about 1995.
Rating 7

Coldseed - Completion Makes The Tragedy
(Nuclear Blast)

Coldseed's been a spark in the mind of ex-Blind Guardian drummer Thomen Stauch for three years now. At various times, he's thought about Skin from Skunk Anansie and Burton from Fear Factory for the vocal slot, but ended up with Speed from Soilwork instead, a good choice, given his effortless top shelf handling of no less than death, holler, spoiled child, spooky bass and sonorous croon. All of which comes in handy here, as Stauch has written a strange batch of tunes that could only come from the mind of a drummer. Songful at times, tribal at others, mechanistic like industrial here, doomy and almost grungy and Godsmacked there. Then there's Euro thrash and Annihilator precision, even a spareness that verges on the punky. But it's all done with resonant metal tooling, goodly fat sounds from Gamma Ray's Dirk Schlachter, and out of Bjorn, most apt and often, his sort of Killing Joke/Rammstein "holler." There's a bit of Poisonblack and Mercenary in the commerciality - or song-lovers' usefulness - of the thing, a tunefulness that also hints at both incendiary Samael and Moonspell moments from the left field of their catalogues. Complaints will surface about Bjorn being too over-exposed and yes, maybe someone from way off this base (Dave Matthews? Les Claypool?) would have made for even more spirited debate. Still, as it is, I can see folks either calling this a grower, or a thrower. Personally - and this is weird - but this record resonates more positively for me when I listen to it as a drummer's solo album, Mike Terrana popping into mind much to my surprise.
Rating 7

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