Review by Rick Ossian
This is really great, varied stuff. A little something for everyone, from country-tinged Southern rock to primal, punkish thrash! Most folks reading this will probably wonder the obvious; what about Blaze Bayley? Well, in my opinion, he does his vocal reputation wonders here, giving the obvious stigma of having been the man to replace Bruce Dickinson… The other three members (Jase Edwards – guitar, Jeff Hateley – bass, and Steve “Danger” Ellett on drums) do themselves right proud as well. There are no duds here, musically or vocally, unless you’re not a fan of the workman-like style ballads, then steer clear of The Illusion of Love. At just over six minutes, it is easily the longest track on the disc, but it does not drag on as bad as that would make one expect. It is unique for this collection, however, in that the majority of the tracks are short, punchy numbers. …Illusion is a vocally lush, almost power-pop ballad, but it is still a good tune.
Blue Sky and Live Before I Die, the two other longer tunes, are about as different as you can get. While the former is more of a traditional rock number, churning and pumping like a riff factory almost the entire length of the song, the latter, on the other hand, features a reggae-ish break about a minute in! Teacher features a definite AC/DC vibe, killer power chords opening (really dig the vocals here, by the way) and a killer hell-raising chorus (whoo hoo hoo hoo HOO!). Buy My Pain gives new meaning to the phrase ‘chops’, as that’s exactly what the riffs remind one of, especially in the introduction. There are elements of punk and thrash throughout this number. Again, with Starlight, we are listening to a more traditional, classic rock tune, almost Southern rock even. I was reminded of Drive-By Truckers or Kings of Leon! ‘Whatever makes you happy’ seems to be a very fitting refrain here, as the mood lightens considerably during this tune.
Smoke and Red Light, on the other hand, is a real stomper, almost a punk vibe again. Power pop comes to mind as well, even traces of psychobilly! Tasty lead guitar work about half way in, as the subject contemplates the days ‘when we were kings’. Not a bad tune at all. Who Are You Now? is another slammer with some cool vocal effects. These also adorn Child of the Sun. Everybody’s Looking For Something is another punk number with some serious bass guitar. It is a power punk pumper (say that five times fast), the sort of churning metal boogie that brings on the inevitable nodding of the head. I love the line ‘ever get the feelin your being cheated?’ Did It For the Money is another ass-kicker. It is a punk/metal crossover with aggressive attitude, but also has that power pop punch to it. All in all, a real power pop punk rock metal manifesto! Yes, I was impressed!