The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Michael-Monroe-Blackout-States-Review-2015

MICHAEL MONROE - BLACKOUT STATES - ALBUM REVIEW

Spinefarm | Release Date: October 9 2015

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Michael Monroe may just have released his best album as a solo artist, and as a long-time fan who has been there since the early days of the eighties that is a huge call.


After a couple of critically acclaimed releases: 2011’s ‘Sensory Overdrive’ and 2013’s ‘Horns and Halos’ which just kept getting better and better this really is the record to top them all. Why? Because it’s all that a great Rock and Roll record should be – loud, rude, in-your-face and brimming with energy; but it’s also more than that, it’s an album that isn’t afraid to look back to where this all began and remember and even echo some of those good times.


Taking it all the way back I fell in love with the Hanoi Rocks as a kid, they were my band, the one I discovered on my own and in the pages of the sadly departed Sounds magazine. They were the band I snuck into venues underage to see, the band that embodied all I wanted Rock and Roll to be and all it still is to me today, and hearing this album for the first time a few short hours before interviewing Michael for the first time it all came flooding back.


When ‘This Ain’t No Love Song’ first bursts out of the speakers you know this is going to be good, but unlike Monroe’s recent output which ran from great to well worthy of inclusion in the live set, this is solid gold from start to finish (I almost got carried away and said Finnish there).  It’s the perfect song to kick off the album before ‘Old King’s Road’ draws you in for a blast of nostalgia, referencing as it does the early days of the Hanoi Rocks both musically as well as lyrically. It’s a great choice for the first single and video.


‘Going Down With the Ship’ has a lighter edge and huge chorus that raises a huge smile, before ‘Keep Your Eye on You’, one of the real stand outs here amongst some really stiff competition, takes it down further to deliver the perfect ballad. It’s a song that is both understated and dripping with emotion, and includes a very cool guitar break.


‘The Bastard’s Bash’ injects a sudden sweep of fun driven by a cool riff and another big chorus and some cool harp before ‘Good Old Bad Days’ again references Hanoi, not only lyrically but also in the drum intro which echoes the opening to Hanoi’s ‘Motorvatin’’. It’s another completely infectious slab of fired-up good time Rock N Roll and adds some cool sax from Monroe into the mix.


‘R.L.F.’ that follows is a song I hope we get to hear live with its breakneck speed, punky drive and simple but effective refrain. It’s the title track ‘Blackout States’ that again changes the pace with a pop driven rocker that over the last few years Monroe and his band have done so well. ‘Under the Northern Lights’ brings an acoustic guitar to the intro before upping the speed; and ‘Permanent Youth’ layers on the melody and gets reflective again. It’s a great one-two punch before ‘Dead Hearts on Denmark Street’ swaggers into town and kicks at the changes and ‘Six feet in the Ground’ which to me at least conjures up images of a certain sadly departed guitar-totting New York Doll.


We close with the fiery, Dead Boys-like ‘Walk Away’ another perfect slab of punk-fuelled Rock N Roll to leave you wanting so much more like all the best Rock albums do… In 6 years of The Rockpit I’ve given six other 5 star ratings, this is no doubt one of the very best albums I have heard in years.

 

by Mark Rockpit

 

 


 

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