Y&T - Facemelter (2010) Jul 14, 2010 23:27:52 GMT -5
Post by Erik Rupp on Jul 14, 2010 23:27:52 GMT -5
Y&T is back!
After a long absence Dave Meniketti and Phil Kennemore finally got together to do more than play the occasional live gigs as Y&T - this time they sat down to write new material and went in to the studio and recorded a new batch of songs.
So does the album live up to the high points of the band's 35 year history? Or is it a disappointment?
Well, I'm happy to report that the album is not a disappointment. It may not be one of their 3 or 4 best albums, but it's pretty close.
This time Dave and Phil are joined by 2nd guitarist John Nymann and relatively new drummer Mike Vanderhule, but there isn't much of a difference in the sound of the band compared to any of their previous line-ups. Vanderhule seems to be playing the middle road between original Yesterday and Today drummer Leonard Haze and his replacement, the well traveled Jimmy Degrasso.
The album starts off on the wrong foot (with a goofy, "Prelude," that just seems rather amateurish and outdated), but it quickly recovers once, "On With the Show," kicks in. Opening with a bass lick that sounds a lot like Randy Rhoads' guitar intro to, "Crazy Train," it doesn't take long before the song kicks into high gear. This is a near classic Y&T opening track (it's somewhere in between the Black Tiger/Meanstreak era stuff and the Contagious/Ten era in style). It is a very, very good song and is immediately a welcomed addition to the Y&T catalog.
"How Long," is a slower song with a decent groove. It is very similar to the songs on their Ten album from 1990. It's good, even if not as good as the song before it. And if, "How Long," was a long lost cousin to the songs on Ten, then, "Shine On," is a lost track from Contagious. This one again has a better than average sense of groove and features a strong chorus hook. This is a very good song, instantly worthy of the Y&T catalog.
There was a point in the mid 80's when I told my Hard Rock and Metal friends that by the year 2000 just about every riff possible would have been written, and almost every song written from that point on would feature riffs that were very similar to songs written years or decades earlier. While that hasn't exactly turned out to be completely true, the opening riff to, "I Want Your Money," goes a long way towards showing that I wasn't all that far off. It's a riff straight off the Silver Mountain, but it manages to exist without being a blatant rip-off. Instead, the similarity seems to be merely coincidental - and this is a pretty cool riff in and of itself. Oh, did I mention that, "I Want Your Money," is a really good song? Well, it is. So while there is the one riff in the song that might remind the listener of a previous classic, the rest of the song is strong enough to easily forgive that.
Track six brings the first, "Power Ballad," in the form of, "Wild Child," but this is not a romantic, girl friendly Power Ballad. Instead it is a moody, dynamic rocker that works extremely well in the context of the album.
The band picks up the pace a bit on the next track, the bold, "I'm Coming Home," a song with a very strong vocal melody in the chorus and a feel that is reminiscent of both the Black Tiger and Mean Streak albums. It's one of the album's highlights.
"If You Want Me," is another power ballad, this one leaning a little more towards the standard issue style, with only a slight blues feel to the guitar part in the verse to make it stand out from the mass of power ballads recorded over the years. It's not a bad song (it's actually pretty good as these things go), but in the end it isn't one of the better songs on the album.
While, "Hot Shot," is pretty good musically (even if a bit standard issue AC/DC-ish, just with the Y&T melodies on top), but lyrically Dave and Phil seemed to tap into their inner high school juniors. That's right, the lyrics aren't sophomoric - they've moved on to the junior level! Seriously, these are the kind of lyrics you'd expect from a couple guys in (or just out of) high school. That wouldn't be so bad if the band members were in their early to mid 20's, but for a couple guys in their early 50's? It's just a little embarrassing (or it should be). The song's not bad, but the lyrics are just so dopey and goofy that it is taken down a notch from what it could have been.
Don't stop runnin' - In Rock We Trust! "Blind Patriot," would have fit in perfectly on their 1985 album. Uptempo, energetic, powerful, and filled with great vocal melodies and a strong chorus hook, this one is a big winner. This is the kind of song that put Y&T on the map, and it's nice to hear that they can still pull this type of thing off so well.
The high school kids (well, Kennemore alone this time) that wrote the lyrics to, "Hot Shot," return on, "Gonna Go Blind," with similarly juvenile results. Musically, this is one of the weaker tracks on the album, making this the album's only true misfire. Having a real producer (Meniketti produced it himself) might have made a difference. The band needed to be pushed a bit. After a decade plus break between albums they could have come up with stronger material than, "Gonna Go Blind," and an outside producer could have told them that.
Speaking of stronger material, "Don't Bring Me Down," is exactly that. Dynamic, filled with tempo changes and strong melodies, this is one of the best songs on the album. John Nymann contributed to the songwriting on this track, and if this is the kind of thing that he's capable of writing then the band should let him write more for the next album.
And to close out the album with back to back winners Y&T scores with, "One Life." More good riffing, more good vocal melodies, and a good chorus hook make for a top notch Y&T song. This upper mid-tempo song has the kind of energy and enthusiasm usually associated with a band half their age, proving that Y&T still has a lot of gas left in the tank.
While Facemelter isn't the best album in Y&T's catalog, it is a very strong release and is as good as just about any of the albums released by 70's or 80's bands over the last couple of years (and there have been several strong releases during that time, including KISS' Sonic Boom and RATT's Infestation).