Thursday, March 02, 2017

Craving Angel-Redemption

Minotauro Records

Formed in 1984 (with only the lead singer remaining from the original line-up), Minnesota's Craving Angel was last heard from in 2014. Having interviewed Buddy "Bud" Hughes (vocals, percussion) in mid-March of that year (link), Craving Angel seemed poised to make a triumphant comeback thanks to it's heartfelt mixture of (gritty) hard rock and (real) heavy metal. Or at least they did to me. Due to one situation or another that didn't happen. It's unfortunate, but it isn't uncommon. Shit happens (as they say)...even to the best of them. When it comes to this 17-track album, BEST is a word that we could easily throw around (minus one or two missteps that we'll address below). That's especially true when it comes to the first couple of tracks on this forthcoming release. Powerful and moving to these old ears and heart of mine, "Hell's Waiting" (and the first three tracks that come before it) left me spinning about in an emotional daze! It's all so odd I realize, but here's the only way that I can describe the vibe of these few first numbers and a couple more that stand out here and there. With the help of some of Erick Wright (bass, keyboards, percussion, and back-up vocals) and Jimmy "Jim" Cassidy (guitars, drums, percussion and bass guitar)*, Buddy is a longtime veteran of the sport** that is playing a young man's game and he knows it. On the eve of being cut for fresh blood, Buddy pulls off a season for the ages(!), thus proving that experience oftentimes overshadows youthful energy. The question on everyone's mind now is "Can Buddy do it again or was this just one last hurray to prove the naysayers wrong?". "Should he be resigned or will he be cut (only to be scooped up by someone else who will then strike it rich with his skills)?" ponders management as they miss the big picture. You see, Buddy's true fans don't care if he can do it again. Young or old, Buddy's awesome all the same. All he has done is add to his great legacy. When it comes to Bud and the rest of Craving Angel, "Redemption" is a good collection of songs that are made great because of two reasons. First they great because of everything that has lead up to. The music on display here merely adds to the group's rich history. Sure, influence-wise the usual gang is all here. "Redemption", like its predecessor and companion piece "Dark Horse", is made with the understanding that there is no real difference between (old school) hard rock and heavy metal. For those of us who actually lived through the scene the first time around, Judas Priest, Alice Cooper, Mötley Crüe, (early) Ratt, Skid Row, G n' R, Faster Pussycat, Krokus, W.A.S.P., Fastway, Keel, Helix, L.A. Guns, solo Ozzy and (early) Accept are all good examples of that fine line between the two (metal and hard rock) that we simply ignored. That's the kind of music we are talking about when it comes to "Redemption" and it damn fine because of it! As for here and now? That's the second point. If you understand Motörhead then you will understand this next part. "Redemption", with it's aches and pains/warts and grey hairs, is great because it lives for the moment and makes no bones about the fact that it is older and wiser. And I think that is what ultimately moved me the most. In regards to "Redemption" you can feel the joy and heartache that comes with having lived a full life. Maybe our younger readers will understand this and maybe they won't, but sometimes the memories are both, joyous and heartbreaking. It's a double edged sword (and a sharp one at that), but I digress. Let's look at the track list below. As you will see, "Dirty Girls" starts off with little notes and a grade. These notes and/or grades will help you get a feel for each individual track, but be forewarned kiddos! These were just my personal notes as I listened to the album the first time around as a critic. On the second go around I listened to the album as a whole. That's the proper way to go about it when you are a fan. In case there are any questions, "fan first and critic second" is how I describe myself. As a whole, "Redemption" is one track after another and not a mashup of potential singles/hits and misses. Obviously I'm older than some of our readers, but we used to call these LPs. Not the format, but in regards to hearing the whole lot as a collection of songs with one singular narrative. Mind you, "Redemption" is not a concept album. It's simply a bunch of songs that work better together.

 PS: Not every track has a grade by it and (other than misspellings) rewriting history is not something that I am into.

1) "Dirty Girls"-Solid A opener that is (perfectly) Judas Priest meets Mötley Crüe.

2)"Crash and Burn"-Mötley Crüe and Judas Priest mix it up w/ solo Ozzy. There's some sick guitar parts. Other times it's like a dark G n' R/L.A. Guns.

3) "Chicaboom"-Gritty hard rock. Edgy as f**k. B+

4) "Hells Waiting" A+-Is there really redemption? Hard rock with a country and western swagger...even if you can't help the damnation that is to come.

5) "Roses Are Red"-Heartache and

6) "Outta My Way"-I like the sentiment and the guitar playing, but it's not all that it ought to be given the fancy set of ingredients. C+

7) "Freak Show"-Almost sounds like something that Alice Cooper would have wrote. Better the second time around, but still a B-.

8) "Bad Voodoo"-Bluesy and sleazy. Buddy channels Steven Tyler like no other! Very cool.

9) "Everything I Do"-Hair metal/glam. Craving Angel is digging through the graves of many forgotten eighties bands (in the best way possible). Much better than it is has any right to be. A-

10) "Gonna Party"-Are the guys in Craving Angel auditioning as songwriters for new glam/hard rock bands? This could be a jam for a young band.

11) "Dirty Little Secret"-Oddly this reminds me of eighties metal as much as it does when Iggy Pop went mainstream.

12)"Dream Chaser"-Short and sweet hard rock/heavy metal. Nice.

13)"She's No Lady"-Dive bar metal meets garage metal. All I need is another glass of wine and this wound be golden!

14) "Gonna Getcha"-I like everything but the chorus. Punk-laden metal with sharp guitars licks. I give it a B.

15) "New Day"-Has bits and parts to kill for, but as a whole song? I don't know.

16) "Primadonna"-Solo Ozzy, Mötley Crüe, and Twisted Sister. A little bit of all three? It's weird, but I could easily see those last two (and maybe even Anthrax if not for it's punk vibe!) making this song into a huge hit! Then again, punk bands could do the same with it and maybe even do a better job than any of the groups listed! All the same, cool cut. B+ maybe? A- perhaps?

17) "Roses are Red (acoustic version)". I thought I liked the plugged in version, but this is more raw (emotionally) and it's more open & honest. A+ and it's not even close!

 And there you have it. Due out sometime this month, "Redemption" comes highly recommended. That's especially true for fans of "Dark Horse", but it also rings true for those people that are into the eighties and (early) nineties hard & heavy scene. 

*Pat Skeie (bass) and Dan Hanley (drums) play on "Roses Are Red" and "Everything I Do".

**Let's call it "football" since that resonates with both sides of the pond.

PSS: See track two, but there is a chunk of "Redemption" that seems almost dark (vibe wise). I can't put my finger on it, but it is there all the same. Interestingly enough I also jotted down this line in my notebook (and with a smile to boot!): "Faster Pussycat meets Motörhead, but with Alice Cooper". I can't remember why I wrote that line down on the top of my page, but somehow it all seems rather appropriate to share it.

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Anonymous Erick said...

whomever those "fans" are in the right-hand column, they must be referring to your reviews of other artists. When they refer to "hearing" and "listening" - that makes no sense because our album (Craving Angel - Redemption) isn't even on sale quite yet. So whoever those novice douchebags are, they should get a better hobby. Trolling an album review that they obviously haven't heard themselves is the epitome of douchbagitude.

12:55 AM  

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