When melodic New Jersey rockers Trixter reunited back in 2007, their reunion wasn’t the only surprise. More so the fact that their reunion album New Audio Machine (2012) was a real killer. Trixter were never the world’s biggest band, to put it mildly, and their career didn’t really last long and when they split up I never heard anyone say they missed them. If we shall be honest here, Trixter were looked upon – and still are by some, I might add – as a bit of a joke – a band that people mention when the talk about what went wrong with the melodic pop-metal of the early 90’s (or Hair Metal as some people like to call it. How stupid!). Both Poison and Winger has been exposed to that kind of treatment before, but at least the latter never did deserve that. You don’t have to like them but if you can’t hear that Winger is a high quality rock band, you’re tone-deaf. Trixter didn’t deserve that treatment either. But I must admit, I was never a big fan even though I own their debut self titled album from 1990. And many people do, over one million Americans, to be precise. Because Trixter managed to get a pretty big hit with their debut single “Give It To Me Good” over there and their record went platinum. But it was over almost before it had begun. The follow-up, 1992’s Hear! bombed – not even I bought it – and after that, only a pointless covers album, Undercovers (1994), showed a sign of life from Trixter. By then no melodic hard rock – or metal – band was welcome anymore so there was no reason to keep going, really. Some of the guys kept playing in pop-punk outfit 40 Ft Ringo (guitarist Steve Brown and bassist P.J. Farley) and released an album, Funny People back in 2003, but that never went anywhere. I guess the world didn’t need another Blink 182 or Sum 41. Anyway, I didn’t really know what to expect when I first heard New Audio Machine for the first time, but I hoped it would be ok. It was more than ok – it was bloody great. the sound was heavier and the songs had more groove than I ever heard from the band. Trixter’s debut album had a thin and an almost garage sound and I can’t for my life figure out why they decided to produce it like that. They also managed to record an unreleased Skid Row tune, “Walk With A Stranger” on that record. I’m not sure if there is any demand at all for a Trixter record in 2015, the name itself might scare people away, but people who aren’t close-minded and willing to give things a try might just find lots of goodies on that album. For the follow-up, I still don’t know what to expect other than now I know what the guys are capable of and I hope the high quality will continue on this record.
When I saw that the first single / video was called “Rockin’ To The Edge Of The Night”, I didn’t know what to think. I mean, that title…c’mon already. If a band like Steel Panther use a title like that, you kinda get the idea, but Trixter aren’t Steel Panther and this is 2015, not 1988. That title is just too cheesy for comfort and really a no-no. But I did watch the video and the song was better than its name. The first time I heard it through my earphones, I loved it. This is kind of party tune I’d like to hear at a club or at a festival in the sun (hello, Sweden Rock…). a good time late 80’s party rocker, catchy and groovy. “Crash That Party” is, however, on the more forgettable side. The title kind of gives away how the song sounds, like Def Leppard trying to be Mötley Crüe. Sounds like a cool mix, but it doesn’t work all the way, I’m afraid. “Not Like All The Rest” sounds like it could have been written for the last album. It’s a very catchy melodic rocker with some edge and that should get an audience going in a live situation. “For You” is a stripped down hard rocker, no more, no less but sure good enough. “Every Second Counts” has a striking melody that get stuck in the brain whether you like it or not – melodic hard rock with a big hit feel. “Beats Me Up” is a brilliant ballad where their Def Leppard influences shines through and a Def Leppard influence can never be wrong. “Good Times Now” is a party stomper although it moves in a bit slower pace, but with a catchy groove and a sing-along chorus – great! “Midnight In Your Eyes” is really a pop song, but it has been built up by some really fine riffing and a darker twist added to the sound – clearly a favourite for me. “All Night Long” is another song with an overused title that really is cheesier than cheese, but don’t be fooled, it’s a great melodic rocker that belong in the late 80’s with a fine melody and some killer hooks. “Soul Of A Loving Man” has both good and bad in it. The bad is the sampled horns – they really sound plastic and fake so either lose them or get real ones. But on the good side, it’s an awesome song. The style lies somewhere around where Whitesnake were in the early 80’s – yes, that was before David Coverdale went blonde and made bad covers of his own songs. It has a big blues feel, a catchy melody and the groove from Hell. The title track that closes the album is a bit moody and slow, but still very catchy – a very good song that tells the story of the band now and then and has a nice Bon Jovi feel to it – a perfect closing song. There are also two old songs here, which means that the title track really didn’t close the album – “Always A Victim”, not one of the best tracks from their 1990 debut in an acoustic version and “Road Of A Thousand Dreams” from Hear! in a re-recorded version and I actually prefer this one to the original. Although, to include them here feels a bit pointless, actually. But still, you only get them if you buy the iTunes version.
To sum this album up, if you liked the last album, you’re gonna dig this as well and if you thought that Trixter lacked essence and edge back in the 90’s, but still like melodic hard rock, I would recommend you to check this album out because the Trixter of the 2000’s are a different beast compared to then. And of course, guitarist Steve Brown did fill in for Vivian Campbell on tour when Viv had to back out because of cancer treatment and there’s no chance in Hell that Def Leppard would hire a lukewarm nobody for that space. In 2015, when Trixter get to decide for themselves how their records should sound, they go for edgy, powerful, groovy hard rock with shitloads of melodies and hooks – this band is so underrated it’s ridiculous and I think it’s time they get redress. Trixter didn’t suck in the 90’s – like bands like Pretty Boy Floyd or Tuff did – but they weren’t great either. In 2015 they are great. I’m hoping for a Sweden Rock 2016 booking for these guys. I’m sure they would kick our asses live. At least that’s what their music sound like now.
Jon Wilmenius (8/10)
01. Rockin’ To The Edge Of The Night
02. Crash That Party
03. Not Like All The Rest
04. For You
05. Every Second Counts
06. Beats Me Up
07. Good Times Now
08. Midnight In Your Eyes
09. All Night Long
10. Soul Of A Lovin’ Man
11. Human Era
12. Always A Victim (acoustic version)
13. Road Of A Thousand Dreams (re-recorded version)