Saturday, 23 April 2016

The Treatment's 'Generation Me' - Album Review

The Treatment, from Cambridge, were one of those bands I really thought would make it big. I first encountered the band at the Cambridge Rock Festival in 2010. The Thursday night of the festival is traditionally a warm-up night, with local bands and tribute bands making up the majority of the bill. I think I was avoiding a rather average Pink Floyd tribute band that play the festival every year, as I wondered down to the smaller second stage to see what was going on. A few minutes later, five young guys hit the stage and ran through a high-energy set of original material that just blew me away. I was clearly not the only one, as by the time their set was over, the marquee was packed, and the band had to play one of their songs twice to act as an encore as they had no other material! The following year, the band's debut album This Might Hurt was released on the short-lived Powerage Records, a label run by Classic Rock Magazine, but was eventually re-released on Spinefarm. A huge American tour with Kiss and Mötley Crüe followed and I really thought things were looking big for The Treatment. Unfortunately they never seemed to take off. The band's second album Running with the Dogs was released in 2014, but by then guitarist Ben Brookland had already left and a couple of short-term solutions were sought in the form of Jake Pattinson and Dee Dammers. Neither worked out for whatever reason and, when frontman Matt Jones left the band last year, things were not looking good. The band's fresh and energetic hard rock sound should have really caught on, and plenty more support slots with the like of Status Quo, Alice Cooper, and Slash failed to reap the rewards that could have been had. The band re-grouped however, and a new line-up was cemented last year. Joining original members guitarist Tagore Grey, bassist Rick Newman, and drummer Dhani Mansworth, are guitarist Tao Grey, and new frontman Mitchel Emms. A new record deal with the Italian rock label Frontiers and a tour supporting W.A.S.P. filled the back end of 2015 and things were looking up for The Treatment again. The band's third album Generation Me was released last month, and the fans of the band who had been holding their breath since the line-up changes were announced let out a sigh of relief. From the opening number, Generation Me builds upon the sound the band had established over their previous two albums and closely sticks to the same template. There are plenty of big riffs here, and Emms' vocals are a little smoother than Jones' but he lacks none of his predecessor's power. There are a couple of deviations from the norm in places but, on the whole, Generation Me is The Treatment we have all come to know and love.

The album opens with, what is in my opinion one of the best songs the band have ever penned, Let it Begin. The AC/DC-esque main riff and classic rock swagger emitted by the song are easily the song's standout points, but it introduces the band's new line-up with a bang and shows that the changes have not hit them too much. Emms immediately shows that he is a great vocalist, and stamps his identity on the band during the song's killer chorus. A bluesy lead guitar section part-way through sees the band take it down a notch and gradually build up the energy again to great effect. It is a triumphant way to kick off the album, and shows the band have lost none of their power. Opening with a slightly discordant clean guitar pattern, The Devil soon bursts to life with a muscular riff (again, right out of the AC/DC songbook) as the song chugs along at a nice mid pace. The verses are a little more subtle, with the clean guitar pattern dominating, but the choruses are heavy with a good headbanging rhythm and that excellent main riff. The AC/DC similarities only really apply to the riffs however, with the rest of the band's sound being influenced by various 1980s hard rock acts. This is an anthemic tune, with a real fist-pumping chorus that will no doubt go down well live. Tell us the Truth kicks off with another killer riff and a drum pattern that brings to mind Motörhead at their prime. There is lots of energy in this song, and the pace very rarely lets up. There is still plenty of melody however, with some excellent vocal harmonies in the chorus and a great dual-lead guitar section that showcases the chemistry of the Grey brothers. This is quite heavy by the band's standards, and is the first little difference displayed on this album in comparison to their older material. The album's title track is classic Treatment however, with a strident riff and some staccato drumming from Mansworth. Emms shows off his vocal skills during the chorus. He can hold a note well, and unleashes some nice extended vocal notes that are impressive. It is a very memorable song, and adds to the excellent material already present on the album so far. Backseat Heartbeat, along with Let it Begin, is my favourite song on the album. This is another song that showcases a bit of a change in the band's sound, adding some power pop sounds reminiscent of Cheap Trick to their hard rock sound. The song's chorus is a real winner, with Emms showcasing a smoother side of his voice. The guitars have a nice cleaner tone throughout too, which makes the song stand out. The guitar solo section is excellent too, with some excellent harmonies and catchy playing. Cry Tough is more familiar territory for the band, with some gang vocal sections that pack a serious punch and another big riff. While not as inspired as other songs here, it has a simple energy to it that makes it infectious and a joy to listen to.

The second half of the album is not as strong as the first half, but there are still some good songs to be heard. Opening with a slightly weird guitar riff, We are Beautiful is a decent tune even if it does not stand up to what has come before. I love the song's rhythm however, and it never lets up throughout, with the verses and choruses following a very similar pattern - it gives the song identity. It also contains an excellent guitar solo, one of the best on the album, and shows that lead player Tagore Grey is a great player. I Know She Knows is easily the best song during the album's second half, as the chorus really stands out. It is built around an excellent guitar riff and some excellent heavy blues playing. For some reason the song just really stands out. The verses are slightly nondescript, but the chorus makes up for this with a bouncy rhythm and some infectious vocals. The slightly heavier Bloodsucker is one of the album's least interesting songs and, for whatever reason, it just does not stand out. It is quite clunky, with riffs in the verse that just do not seem to fit. It also contains a rather bland chorus that fails to excite. The Treatment have always been guilty of writing a couple of really forgettable songs per album, and this is one of them. Unfortunately, the next number Better Think Again is similar. The grungier guitar sound is quite good, but the song never really takes off and ends up wallowing in an early 1990s gloom. It does contain a rather good shredded guitar solo though, which does stand out, but the rest of the song lacks any big melodies. It is a shame that the end of the album sees a drop in quality like it does, because it makes the album seem very top heavy. Luckily however, the final number Light the Sun goes someway in righting the wrongs of the previous couple of songs. It is an upbeat number, with a summery feel, and some great clean guitar melodies that cut through the distorted rhythm guitar to good effect. There is some more good dual-lead guitar playing too, and the song works well to bring the album to a close and redeems things somewhat. Overall, Generation Me is another good album from The Treatment, and one that shows the band have moved on from their myriad of line-up changes. A couple of poor numbers aside, this a very solid album that builds on what the band have done previously while adding a couple of new ideas into the pot on occasion. Fans of the band will be pleased with this album, but I doubt it will do much to convert those who previously had not like The Treatment.

The album was released on 18th March 2016 via Frontiers Records. Below is the band's promotional video for Let it Begin.

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