Roach Clip-Night Falls
PURE ROCK RECORDS
It was back in 1990 when Roach Clip released their debut album, "Till Morning Light" on vinyl. This German band might have been around since 1986, but this is only the group's third album so the output leaves a bit to be desired. It would take until 2009 for the group to return with the aptly titled "The Return". In between the time of their debut and this, the group's third release the individual band members have kept themselves busy with other projects including Rose Tattoo, Udo Lindenberg, Nicko McBrain, Paul Samson, Jon Lord and Carmine Appice. With "Night Falls" it seems to be that the band (vocals, guitars, bass, keys - Sven Bauer, keys - Oliver Noack, drums - Fritz Steger, vocals, bass - Thilo Kromer and guitars - Rolf Schmidt) has opted to return to the same tried and true sound of old. For fans of the group that means more of the same AOR-influenced hard rock that Roach Clip has become known for. For the rest of us though (who are not so familiar with the band or their take on AOR/hard rock) I'll try to take in the album a little at a time all so that we can look at some of the album's high points and unfortunately low points. With album opener "No Reason" these German rockers easily adapt to the sounds of modern rock while still retaining a classic sound that seems to be rooted in 70's hard rock. Not a bad way at all for the band to open up album number three and certainly a nice rocker like this one deserves to be put out in front to get things started properly. "No Reason" might not be the most inventive hard rock number of all time, but it sets out to make a statement and it does. We'll skip "Buffalo" for now and move onto track number three. "Le Bon Roi Dagobert" takes it's sweet time in getting where it needs to be, but when it does finally get there it keeps the listener entertained just enough to also get it's point across.. On "GL 298" the mixture of keyboards and guitars points backwards to the seventies and a simpler time for hard rock music. So does the number "It Is You" where one can find the band keeping themselves busy with the same sort of laid-back rock and roll that made Tom Petty such a joy to listen to. "Poison Blonde" is nice straight-forward hard rock while "1077" features a nice detour into blues/classic rock territory. "Suck Duck Rockin´" is slightly sleazy bar circuit rock and roll. It's raw and gritty guitar rock sounds almost out of place on "Night Falls", but it still packs a lot into such a short number that it ends up being one of the better cuts. It isn't all Grade A beef though as the slower "Buffalo" falls flat on it's face before it even gets started and on "Praying Mantis" the band just tries too hard to make something out of nothing. In these moments you find yourself waiting for something to happen. The same thing applies to "When the Nightfalls" unfortunately. Thankfully the album still has more to offer. "St. James Infirmary" is a much better attempt at a slower number as is "Stay With Me". With "Stay With Me" the little side effects work their magic to transform a simple rock number into something a bit more charming. The album closes with the decent enough "Fisherman". The solos are great and reminded me almost of Eric Clapton. That part is wonderful it's just that some of the vocal work/lyrics don't work so well and as a result it ends up being a number you could take or leave. In a way the song is just like the whole of the album in that there are great moments ("Poison Blonde" and "Suck Duck Rockin´") and some not so great moments ("Buffalo" for sure). Roach Clip fans will no doubt find much to like about album number three. For the rest of the world though? AOR-infused hard rock has made a bit of a comeback so it isn't as if the scene is devoid of choices. I'd say that Roach Clip will find it hard to break into the mainstream of American rock with a style so hit or miss.