TOXICROSE – Total Tranquility

12585_lIt’s never been cool to like bands such as this. If you like bands like this, you will never be given any credibility. Bands like what, one might ask? Well, bands such as ToxicRose, bands with a very strong image, with very much spiked up hair, shitloads of make-up and extreme outfits for the stage. See, in the world of “real” musicians, it’s not cool unless the artist you’re watching is a fat, balding, aging guy, wearing a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers, standing on stage with his shoes nailed to the floor. “I only need the music”, they say. “Bands like this only use a strong image and a huge stage show to hide that they can’t play”. Rubbish! When you’re listening to a record, those things don’t matter much, but music has always been visual and when I pay big bucks for a concert, I bloody damn well want something to look at as well. To cite Nikki Sixx: “A big show and strong image can only make a good concert better, but it can never make a bad concert good”! Ain’t that the truth, folks! Swedish rockers ToxicRose knows this, of course and decided on going all in on the image part. A very big influence is Mötley Crüe, but looking at them, I’d say they’re a fine mix of The Crüe, Dimmu Borgir, W.A.S.P., Marilyn Manson and the Black Veil Brides. The band has been around for many years now and in 2012 they –  singer Andy, guitarist Tom Wouda, bass player Goran Imperator and drummer Michael Sweet (no relation to the Stryper singer, but he is the brother of Crashdïet guitarist Martin Sweet) – released a self-titled five track E.P. to critical acclaim and shot a video for the tune “A Song For The Weak”. But that was four years ago, so I guess the guys have been biding their time, making sure not to rush things so they would get the best result possible when the time had come to finally get their debut full-length album released. However, things have been so quiet in the ToxicRose camp that many of us have wondered if the guys had decided to pack it in. Well, obviously they haven’t so let’s find out if it has been worth the wait, then, shall we?

They open up with their most recent single, “World Of Confusion” and I must say, the tune really blew right into next week – what a knock-out! It’s heavy and dark, yet sleazy and melodic with some industrial influences on top. Crashdïet meets Marilyn Manson (around his The Golden Age Of Grotesque days) – that’s how I’d like to describe it. There’s more Crashdïet in “The Silent End Of Me”, the way they sounded on their The Unattractive Revolution (2007) and I also hear quite a lot of Sister Sin in there – how can that be bad? Well, it can’t. They band goes for heaviness and aggression with “Killing The Romance”, but the melodies are, especially in the refrain, very catchy and memorable – a really good song! “Sinner” is a good, but kind of forgettable, sleaze rocker that sounds so much like Crashdïet, it could have been one of their unreleased songs. But “We Own The Night” is a dark, heavy, pumping killer of a song with a really memorable main melody, some cool arrangements and a hit-catchy chorus. “Reckless Society” is fast, rough rocker with a bad attitude and – again – some very big Crashdïet and Sister Sin vibes. There is also a radio-friendly synthesizer that is doing its best to give the tune a more mainstream touch. I guess that kinda works. “Clarity” on the other hand, sounds like a mix of “Sinner” and “Reckless Society”. It’s an ok song, but it doesn’t rock my socks off, if we put it that way. The album’s big ballad, “Because Of You”, is bloody amazing, though – maybe the best tune on here. The melody – partly reminiscent of Twisted Sister’s “The Price” – is totally spot on, dark and ominous, yet sweet and emotional. A winner! “We All Fall Down” mixes Mötley Crüe and Faster Pussycat with a dark vibe and a big chunk of pop as the icing on the cake – very good, indeed. They close the record with the title track, the album’s epic powerhouse. It’s quite progressive in the sense that it’s changing in tempo throughout the song. Even though the song have a main melody that reminds me very much of Crashdïet, its different vibes makes it a stand-out track. There’s even a soft and very atmospheric part of the song that is very dark and evil sounding that brings melodic black metal to mind – very cool.

Judging only by the quality of the songs here, this album would get a really high rating. However, there are a few errors on it. First, I’d like to say that the musicians performances are all faultless. None of them are virtuosos by any means, but they sound very tight and focused. The problem is the somewhat fragile and sometimes weak lead vocals of Andy. It’s not like he’s off-key, but he have a tendency to go sour and sometimes it sways a bit too much. But the guy have a really cool voice and these are minor setbacks that a vocal coach will cure in no time. Also, the band seems to lean too much towards their influences – Crashdïet shines through on almost every song here and it’s easy to spot Sister Sin as well. I don’t find the lack of identity disturbing as much as a wish to hear more ToxicRose and less influences in their sound – they really need to get rid of the Crashdïet thing in the future. Normally, when the identity is lacking, I would dismiss the album, but the fact that ToxicRose writes such brilliant tunes saves this record to the point where I just don’t care about the identity flaws. Besides, I think we need more theatrical bands like ToxicRose. I have never seen the band live, but I would bet they’re entertaining as hell. Entertaining not only visually but also sonically. Thumbs up from this guy!

7/10

Tracklist:

1. World Of Confusion
2. Silent End Of Me
3. Killing The Romance
4. Sinner
5. We Own The Night
6. Reckless Society
7. Clarity
8. Because Of You
9. We All Fall Down
10. Total Tranquility

 

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