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



Frontiers Records

Released 21st January 2011



I liked early Extreme, but later in their career they kind of lost my interest. I won't comment on the Cerone vintage Van Halen here either, though I did get a chance to see them during that period. So here we have Gary Cherone's new album recorded with his brother Mark. I must admit I was interested to hear what it would sound like.


First impessions very rarely completely colour my view of an album but here they did almost entirely. This really did feel like an album without much direction. Sure there is a 'sound' here and it's very much late era Extreme. Despite giving this a good few spins I still come away feeling that here is an album with a defined sound and plenty of ideas but no real substance.


Opener comes across with Cherone wanting to sound like Johnny Rotten and in truth ‘Just War Theory’ is a nice enough fast-paced funked up foot-stomper that does make you think you are onto a winner, clocking in at 2.41 too, it’s a nice succinct statement of intent.


Then of course it changes firstly with the quite frankly overlong and funk-for-funks-sake almost Rage Against the Machine parody ‘Stillborn’ which I suppose is nice enough if that’s your thing or you fancy contemplating some rather simplistic lyrics about the dark aspects of human nature…


By now I’m not really enjoying things, it’s like when you eat the prawns first on a plate of seafood or bite into a pie and find it half empty. Here I get the feeling that Gary has gone in a written an album for lovers of Extreme and don’t think for a moment if that sounds like you that you won’t like this it’s just that you probably won’t find anything that new or unexpected here.


Plodding along ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ starts with a bit of barbershop a Capella before a heavy riff cuts into to be superseded with trademark Pornograffitti chorus and a bit of funk. I’m sure lovers of this kind of sound will be raving over all these wonderful changes citing wonderful innovation and vision. To me its just three or four ideas shoehorned into a song and tied together with a chorus. But each to their own.


Kaffur (Infidel) lyrically is either slightly disturbing or thought-provoking depending on your point of view and your interpretation of the lyrics. As a song it’s like bad Soundgarden with Ozzy style vocals (that are particularly grating) and a slab of funked up guitar and bass. I found it quite aimless.


Just to prove a sensitive side ‘Painter Paint’ starts all acoustic and goes nowhere in its two and a half minute life. It is in truth probably just in there as a counterpoint to ‘Tolerance Song; that follows, that comes across like a bastard son of heavy riffing Stone Temple Pilots and White album Beatles (in a bad way).


Elsewhere ‘Set Me Free’ is a great song, slow building, again reminiscent of Soundgarden but this time we get a cohesive song with light and shade and dark themes. It’s my pick of the album by a long way.   


The problem I have here is that there is nothing really awful here it’s just not my thing really and I don’t see anything really cool for a casual observer sure’ Jesus Would You Meet Me’ brings in a bit of acoustic riffing for variety; ‘The Murder of Daniel Faulkner’ treads on Dylan’s toes but barely; but elsewhere nothing really grabs me.


“Hurtsmile was about returning to my roots, writing a record in my basement, a straight up rock ‘n’ roll record… but it turned out to be more diverse and ambitious than I expected.” Cherone said. I for one would rather he’d stuck with the original plan.

Quite frankly I was a little surprised how much I was disappointed by this album. I’m sure fans of Gary’s previous output though; especially latter-day Extreme will love it. Maybe it landed on a bad day?