COLLATERAL – Collateral

When you think about the fact that the U.K. has given us so much fantastic Rock music throughout the times, I find it somewhat strange just how few modern bands with high-quality skills that comes from there nowadays. Think about it, back in the 60, the British Invasion brought us bands like The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks… Something that continued throughout the 70’s with Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Rainbow, Whitesnake right into the Metal 80’s where bands such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Saxon broke through. Even the late 80’s with Melodic Rock bands with Def Leppard at the front followed by Little Angels, FM, Shy, Thunder and the likes. So whatever happened to England when Classic Rock rose in the early 2000’s?

I’m not saying there hasn’t been any really good ones. Inglorious are brilliant. Bigfoot also comes to mind but they split up after only one killer record. A few months back in a Facebook group called NWOCR – New Wave Of Classic Rock – a stir was created with lots and lots of members sharing stuff about this new British Rock band called Collateral. Apparently, this lot was supposed to be influenced by Melodic Rock, Classic Rock and Southern Rock, something that really made me want to look into them. Formed by guitarist/lead vocalist Angelo Tristan, guitarist Todd Winger, bassist Jack Bentley-Smith and drummer Ben Atkinson, the band released their debut E.P. Four Shots in 2018 to much critical acclaim which gave them a support slot on Jon Bon Jovi’s “Runaway To Paradise” Mediterranean Cruise and a spot at Ramblin’ Man Fair festival and now the time has come for the band to show off their debut album to the world.

“Mr Big Shot”, one of the album’s singles, opens the album in the best of ways. A groovy stomper that takes aim at American Stadium Rock on a rhythmic and raw ground with melodies so strong they can move mountains. A fat, classic Hard Rock riff carries the tune as the pre-chorus builds up for the actual chorus, a chorus that strikes hard with more hooks than on a fisherman’s hat. A real killer! “Promiseland” brings on a punchy groove with some crispy classic Hard Rock riffing where striking melodies gushes over us like a damn waterfall. The mix of 80’s Melodic Rock and organic Classic Rock marries splendidly here with some great harmonies, hook-laden melodies and another refrain to die for but never ever cheesy or sugary. Brilliant stuff.

Latest single “Merry Go Round” is heavy, holds a crunchy groove, fat guitar riffs and a punchy rhythm with amazingly memorable vocal-melodies in both verses and chorus. The song mixes some classic 80’s Hard Rock where Tristan’s self-spoken Bon Jovi influences shows up with a Southern stomp of Black Stone Cherry and the likes – a damn catchy number that still rocks all the way through. Should be a huge hit in a fair world. Love it! The upbeat “In It For Love” takes on a bigger Melodic Rock touch with more use of keyboards and a smoother outlook and I can hear traces of both pop-rock from the mid 80’s and early 90’s Arena Rock. As one of the first songs Tristan wrote – it goes back some 10 years – the song has aged brilliantly and the way it turned out it sounds like a hit for miles and miles. Marvelous.

Released as a single almost a year ago, “Lullaby” is a straight-forward Melodic Rock track, driven by fat guitars and a kicking rhythm. It’s a slightly commercial rocker that holds a retro 80’s sound made for 2020. The big grooved rhythm-section and the crispy edge will make this a live-killer as soon as we’re able to go to gigs again.  Even older is the leading single “Midnight Queen”, released over a year ago as a single and the only track on here that’s also on the E.P. It’s an uptempo pop-song that mixes both influences from Americana music, a bit Eagles-esque with a Bon Jovi stomp and more traditional AOR-rock such as Foreigner and Loverboy but also Van Halen’s more poppy moments show up. It’s very big on hooks, the main-melody is infectious and on top a million-bucks chorus with an enormous amount of hit-potential. The fact that this tune wasn’t a huge hit a year ago is beyond me. Mindblowing stuff!

The album’s big power ballad – of course, an album like this needs its power-balladry – is called “Get Back To You” and the time-machine back to the late 80’s I’m in while listening feels unreal – I close my eyes and I’m back in front of MTV while this song is the new big hit of the times. While some probably will dismiss this as a mishmash of Bon Jovi, Warrant, Winger and Slaughter – and yes, it’s as soft and cute as all of those bands’ ballads – this ballad also comes with a huge love and passion for that kind of music. It sounds honest, real and it’s damn good, with a refrain Desmond Child would have sold his mother to write. As a fan of this kinda Rock – I’m floored.

The screams of the 80’s continues with “Won’t Stop Me Dreaming”, an uptempo yet poppy stomper with a good, juicy drive and smooth yet crispy melodies all over. It’s a catchy tune without a doubt but at the same time not as strong and direct as the rest of the album. My guess is that it will work better from the stage. It’s not a throwaway by any means but the strength of the previous tracks makes it disappear a little. Closing track “About This Boy” is a Country flavored uptempo pop-rock half-ballad, based on acoustic guitars, a piano and a laid-back swing. Lyrically it comes across as semi-autobiographical, telling Tristan’s own story. It’s a memorable rocker, catchy as damn but sugarless, quite impossible not get hooked by – and there’s some major hit-potential present as well. Great stuff.

While nine songs is about at least one too few, the filler quota is at the same time somewhere around zero which makes this a very solid effort. That being said, I would have loved a more crafty and fat rocker to close the album. While Collateral hardly is revolutionary musically, the quality is close to enormous here and I for one don’t give a rat’s ass about whether you have invented the wheel once more or not when I’m given a class-act record like this. Collateral play the music they love and love the music they play – and that is classic melodic Hard Rock from when the 80’s became the 90’s with a good twist of 70’s Classic Rock waved in here and there – and they do it with all the passion, heart, love and conviction in the world. Collateral shows that rock-music is still alive and well in the UK and hopefully they’re here for the long run because with the skills of this band, both as musicians and as song-writers, these guys sure has a very promising future.

8/10

Tracklist:

1. Mr. Big Shot
2. Promiseland
3. Merry Go Round
4. In It For Love
5. Lullaby
6. Midnight Queen
7. Get Back To You
8. Won’t Stop Me Dreaming
9. About This Boy