Friday, 1 February 2013

Crashdïet's 'The Savage Playground' - Album Review

Crashdïet are one of many bands hailing from the Scandanavian countries who are doing all they can to bring back 80s glam/sleaze metal. While this scene (like pretty much all the others) is becoming full of so many mediocre bands, Crashdïet are one of the forerunners of the genre and have seen quite a lot of success world-wide. The Savage Playground is their fourth studio album, and second with vocalist Simon Cruz at the helm. Cruz joined the band in 2009 and featured on their last album Generation Wild which was easily the group's most focussed and strongest record to date. While I do not feel that The Savage Playground is as good as it's predecessor, there is still plenty to enjoy here and fans of 80s hair metal and classic rock will find a wealth of heavy-hitting tunes to sink their teeth into.

In my opinion, the album actually starts off with one of the weakest tracks. Save the World is a little bland and fails to get the album off to a great start. Peter London's bass roars and Cruz sings well, but for me this track just does not seem to pack the punch needed for an opener. You also notice how the production is a little muted compared to Generation Wild which is probably the main reason why this album fails to live up to that standard. It seems to lack the raw, gutsy sound that they used on that album. Up next is the first single Cocaine Cowboys and this is how the album should have started! A simple, yet effective riff, gets things off to a good start and the verses are almost spat out of the speakers at you there is so much venom in Cruz's voice. The chorus is memorable and works well as a single. To me, this song sounds a bit like Cinderella doing a cover of Marilyn Manson's The Beautiful People - which sounds like an odd combination but it works extremely well. Martin Sweet also adds a deliciously melodic solo to the proceedings. Next comes Anarchy. This is a song firmly in the hair metal camp, and really represents what was great about late 80s music. It is extremely catchy and is likely to be a concert staple for years to come. Sweet's guitar playing here is top class and makes even simple licks sound excellent. The next highlight is Lickin' Dog. This song is a real down and dirty sleaze tune dripping with attitude. The vocal melodies are excellent and Cruz displays all his skills here. It is songs like this though that really could have done with the ballsier production found on Generation Wild, as it would have really taken it to the next level!

Sin City is the next song worth talking about. This is another really sleazy number that boasts a great guitar riff that brings to mind bands like Ratt and Danger Danger. Cruz actually sounds a bit like Stephen Pearcy on this track and sings one of the best choruses on the album. Got a Reason is up next and has a slightly more AOR sound to it. There is lots of great lead guitar work throughout the song and overall it just has such a great sound to it. Most of the songs on this album are extremely accessible but I say that this one of the most poppy songs here. An excellent song to show to potential fans. The next highlight is the heavier Snakes in Paradise. Eric Young's anthemic drums combined with a really dirty guitar riff get this song off to a great start and Cruz's vocals, which sound very similar to the late Layne Staley here, carry the verses very well. There is another great guitar solo on this song. The album closes with the 'epic' (by Crashdïet standards..) Garden of Babylon. There is a bit of everything going on here, and it brings to mind W.A.S.P. at their most creative. It also has quite an 'Eastern' influence in parts, especially the guitar solo. It is unlike anything Crashdïet have ever done before and is a great way to end the album. Overall, this is an extremely enjoyable album. I just wish that the album utilised the same raw production values as Generation Wild as I feel that many of the songs would have benefited from this. Also, as many albums these days are, I feel that prehaps it is a couple of songs too long. This is a common criticism that I have of many albums released in the last decade or so, but leaving out songs is always hard as probably the ones I would miss out are other people's favourites! However, this is a great record, and I recommend it to anyone with a taste for fun, hard-rocking music. They are touring in the UK in April too so make sure you get on down to a show!

The album was released on 21st January 2013 via Frontiers Records. Below is the band's promotional video for Cocaine Cowboys.

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