TREAT – Tunguska

Just when I was to begin writing this review (yes, I know I’m behind schedule) I was reached by the news that Treat has taken the #1 spot in the Swedish charts. And #2 in the Hard Rock charts. And #3 in the vinyl charts. I guess that people still buy records after all. How cool is that? Cool and very well-earned. I have been a fan of this band since they released their debut album Scratch And Bite back in 1985 and why they never broke big world-wide, like Europe did, back in the 80’s is a mystery to me. They had everything to reach that goal – the songs, the hooks, the sound, the looks and they were all great musicians. Since their reunion in 2005, Treat has released two awesome records – Coup De Grace (2010) and Ghost Of Graceland (2016) – both just as good – or the way I see it, even better – as the stuff they released in the 80’s. Treat of the 2000’s has brought in new elements to their music but they still sound like Treat – Melodic hard Rock with twists of both AOR and plain Hard Rock.

Since the restart, Treat has also been proving to us time after time what an amazing live act they are. They have always been so – I remember how floored I was the first time I saw them back in 1986 at a gig-joint in the middle of nowhere – but today it looks like there’s no stop in them. Of course, the line-up they have today – Robert Ernlund (vocals), Anders Wikström (guitar), Pontus Egberg (bass, also in King Diamond), Jamie Borger (drums) and Patrick Appelgren (keyboards) – is stronger than steel with world-class musicians – and then some. All this means that Treat in 2018 are a force to be reckoned with – and since both their previous albums are such killers, the expectations on their new one has gone beyond the clouds. I expect high-quality and nothing less!

Opener “Progenitors” begins with a long intro that breaks into a big, fat guitar riff that gets the song going and drummer Jamie Borger kicks it with his best Mick Tucker (Sweet) “Sweet F.A.” impression that fits the tune like a glove. As a tune this is a pretty tough Melodic Hard Rock number, very in-your-face with the modern Treat touch of the later albums. Since this is Treat, there’s also a big, very catchy chorus that makes the song stick. I wouldn’t call it radio-friendly, this is more live-laden and I guess the new concert-opener. Bloody awesome! “Always Have, Always Will” follows and it brings on a big bouncy groove, a fat guitar riff and a very memorable main melody. On top of that we get a huge refrain with a big chunk of Pop catchiness that just screams single – fantastic. Two songs in and I it’s not like my expectations has lowered. Quite the opposite.

“Best Of Enemies” kicks of with a big, fat riff that reminds me of ReVertigo, the project Wikström put together with Mats Levén (Candlemass, Yngwie Malmsteen and once upon a time Treat). The essence of classic Hard Rock pervades this Melodic Rock tune and it brings on a heavier touch. It’s a bit dark in atmosphere but still catchier than chlamydia. Brilliant! Second outing to precede the album is “Rose Of Jericho” brings on an edgy and gritty riff that, again, brings the ReVertigo record to mind. The verses take a more laid-back yet heavy turn which only helps to bring up the dynamics when the big, distinct chorus attacks like a fist in the face. The refrain is one of those powerhouses that are impossible not to surrender to. In my book, this is a hit and it should be in everyone else’s book as well.

“Heartmath City” is more of an upbeat Pop song on a Melodic Rock ground. It’s very direct and in-your-face and contains a refrain that hits exactly where it should. Style wise, it reminds me of the more poppier things of the last album. Very good. “Creeps” is a faster, more straight-forward hard Rock laden rocker with crispy guitars, heavy and bouncy rhythms which brings on a change of pace here. I love it when Treat decides to rock out – an awesome song. First single “Build The Love” had me a bit worried when it came out. It’s an uptempo Pop ballad that shamelessly targets commercial radio rather than Rock dito. Nothing wrong with that but this tune is too light-weight and sugary for my comfort. To be frank, I have never been a big fan of Treat’s ballads even though they had a couple of really good ones on the last album. Ok, it’s not entirely bad and it has grown on me a bit since I first heard it but I still hold this one as the weakest track on the album.

But with a big groove and ballsy riffs, melodic hard rocker “Man Overboard” sets everything right again. It sniffs around a little more modern Hard Rock sound at times without taking the Treat sound away at all and the song’s got all the hooks in the world and a ridiculously catchy refrain. A real slapshot that hits the goal without the shadow of a doubt – brilliant! “Riptide” is a punchy and pretty tough uptempo Melodic Rock tune that holds the sound of modern-day Treat. The song builds up a big live feel and it’s not hard to imagine this one coming at you from a stage somewhere. It holds a refrain that etches itself to the brain and won’t let go without being overly radio-friendly. A great album track but probably not a single.

“Tomorrow Never Comes” is more of a power ballad albeit with a darker touch and a heavier foundation. It’s quite a bombastic number, big on memorable melodies and a refrain with more catchiness than super glue. I said I’m not that big on Treat’s ballads but this one’s a true winner. HIT!  “All Bets Are Off” is a crunchy harder rocker in classic Treat style with a spark and a punch and killer melodies all over the track. It also comes with a 70’s Hard Rock middle break that also holds a Pomp Rock vibe. And speaking of pomp, the keyboard solo is pompy as hell. Amazing stuff. Closing track “Undefeated” is an energetic, upbeat groovy rocker with tons of hooks and a main melody to die for. The chorus is beyond catchy and to me, this is a single. If you put the ReVertigo album in a blender with Coup De Grace it might just sound like this. An amazing track and a perfect closer that makes you wanna play the album over and over again.

Yes, folks, Treat has done it again and I don’t think I could be more impressed. Three damn killers in a row and right now it seems like they just can’t do no wrong. Production wise, it’s in the same vein as the last two albums and besides the autotune on singer Robert Ernlund’s voice – which is not remotely as evident as on Ghost Of Graceland – producer Peter Månsson has made a damn fine job. Again. Treat of today might not be as gaudy as back in the 80’s, today they’re heavier and a bit darker, but it’s easy to recognize the band, the sound is only updated – and they’re better by it. Treat is yet another one of those bands that has improved with age and are better now than the first time around. Is Tunguska their best effort to date? I’m not sure but I don’t think so. Because of now, their three latest records are all equal to me. Time will tell.

9/10

More Treat reviews:

Coup De Grace
Ghost Of Graceland

Tracklist:

1. Progenitors
2. Always Have, Always Will
3. Best Of Enemies
4. Rose Of Jericho
5. Heartmath City
6. Creeps
7. Build The Love
8. Man Overboard
9. Riptide
10. Tomorrow Never Comes
11. All Bets Are Off
12. Undefeated

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