Monday, 21 October 2013

Reckless Love's 'Spirit' - Album Review

Over the past few years, lots of new hair metal bands have been coming out of the Scandinavian countries, so much so that the market has been flooded by lots of average bands that all sound alike. Within that however, there are some bands that stand out. Finland's Reckless Love are of these and, along with bands like Crashdïet, have helped to create somewhat of a hair metal revival in Europe. Their self-titled debut album released in 2010 had everything that you would want from your average hair metal release. The songs were well written and catchy and the production was sleek and huge. Animal Attraction came only a year later and continued on the successful formula of the first one. Again, it was well received and the band started to build up a large, loyal following. This year sees the release of their third album Spirit which again seems to be more of the same. However, there is something about this album that seems far less inspired and far less catchy than the previous two. All the ingredients seem to be present. The big production is there, thanks to Ilkka Wirtanen, the riffs are still good and most of the songs have decent choruses but overall Spirit just does not excite me like their other two albums did. I am not saying that it is necessarily a bad album, because it is not, but I do think the band need to take some time to think about how to keep things fresh. At the end of the day there are certain things that people expect to hear when listening to a Reckless Love album so I am not expecting the band to make a huge shift in sound, but I think some thought is needed. The thing is, is that I do not really know what is needed which makes me wonder whether the problem lies with me and the fact that, maybe subconsciously, I am getting slightly jaded with the genre as a whole. One thing I can put my finger on though is the lyrics. While Reckless Love's lyrics have never been overly intelligent or poetic, they have always been fun - which is all the counts really. On Spirit however, some of the lyrics are downright dreadful. I will go into more detail throughout the review but I just cannot get over how bad some of the lyrics are here. You might think that after reading all that that I hate this album. I really do not, and overall Spirit is a decent album but for me it just fails to live up to their other two albums.

Things get started convincingly with the first single Night on Fire. This is classic Reckless Love that mixes 1980s style guitars with some nice keyboards to back it up and Olli Herman's recognisable vocals. He is in no way the best vocalist in the genre but he has his own style and charisma that makes him a great frontman. As usual, the guitar work is pretty good. Pepe is a very accomplished player and the solo in this song is flashy and stays true to the style of the genre. Bad Lovin' is up next. While this is a decent tune, it sounds like a rip off of Badass from their self-titled album. I know that hair metal is usually pretty derivative and unoriginal but seemingly ripping off yourself is a little silly. With that said, this song still has a killer main riff and chorus that redeems it from being forgettable. The following song I Love Heavy Metal is where things start to get quite bad though. The lyrics here are dreadful and sound like an attempt to create a family-friendly version of Steel Panther's Death to all But Metal. Unsurprisingly, it just sounds like a poor man's version of that song that just ends up namechecking songs and bands from the 1980s. While the lyrics are awful, the chorus is sickeningly catchy so be careful not to get caught singing this in public! The next highlight - and I do mean that - is the ballad Edge of Our Dreams. True to it's title, the song is quite dreamy with really nice laid back verses that powerful choruses that echo the best of power ballads of the past. It is songs like this where Herman really shines. His voice is suited to the ballad and he conveys just enough emotion to make it sound genuine. The only thing that this song could do to improve is to have a longer solo. Pepe teases us with a little one but to be a true classic it needs a big, epic solo!

Sex, Drugs & Reckless Love is up next and this is another catchy little rocker. Again, the lyrics are somewhat cringy but they are bearable because the music and melodies are infectious. The key change at the end is a hair metal staple but sounds good here and this is sure to be a great song live that the crowd can really get into. Maximum cheese, but enjoyable all the same! Dying to Live is another pseudo-ballad that works well. It is quite a chilled song with a really fantastic chorus that feels modern but still having all the hallmarks of classic 1980s metal. You could imagine some new pop band doing this slightly differently and it being a massive hit. Do not let that put you off though, it is still a very nice song. Metal Ass is up next and this is another song that has some terrible lyrics. The music is quite decent but what does Metal Ass even mean or represent? This song reeks of being thrown on the album at the last minute and it's a shame as with some decent lyrics this would have been good. It has that glam/thrash feel of early Skid Row but is let down by the lyrics. The next highlight is second single So Happy I Could Die. It starts off with a big riff and the catchy verses are sure to make many heads bang. This is really the only song on the album that feels like a true anthem. The chorus is full of melody but also has a bit that is full of fist-pumping brilliance. Pepe also lets rip with a good solo too, something which this album does not really have enough of on the whole. He is an excellent player and we need to hear more of him! The album comes to a close with another gentle song in the form of Hot Rain. It is a true 'lighers in the air' moment that would be an excellent set closer live. Herman's vocals are excellent here and we finally get a true Pepe ballad solo, full of excellent phrasing and melody! Overall, I do actually have lots of positive things to say about this album. Many of the songs are perfectly enjoyable and as a whole it is a decent body of work but it just pales in comparison when compared to either of the band's previous albums. Maybe it is time for the band to shake things up a little and work with a different producer who would come at the material from a different angle, thus creating something that sounds a little fresher.

The album was released on 2nd September 2013 via Spinefarm Records. Below is the band's promotional video for Night on Fire.

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