TEMPT – Runaway

Tempt - RunawayEvery time I hear about some new melodic hard rock band that looks like they have been hidden in some forgotten apartment down on Sunset Strip since 1988, I always get my hopes up that THIS band will be the new hope for melodic rock, but too often, I get highly disappointed as soon as I push play. In the last 10 years or so there has been quite a lot of melodic hard rock that has rocked my world, but America seems to be extremely unproductive when it comes to that kind of music. Instead, Scandinavia has been the leading part of the world when it comes to melodic hard rock. H.E.A.T., Crazy Lixx, Crashdiet, Nordic Union, Eclipse, Ammunition, W.E.T., Casablanca, Laney’s Legion and Sister Sin are some of the bands that have released awesome records time after another in recent years – and Inglorious from England, of course. Also, the press releases for new bands can be a really interesting read as well. Sometimes, just by reading those, you get an idea just how amazingly brilliant said band is, if you divide said press release by at least half. Like the one written for Tempt. To write that the band is a mix of new and old and that they have “a sound and swagger that combines the cut and thrust of modern rock (like Foo Fighters and Rival Sons) with the blazing pride and passion of vintage arena rock (think Van Halen and Def Leppard); a staggering achievement in this day and age” is one thing and I buy that, but to finish the whole thing with “any fan of melodic and hard rock should definitely check Tempt out as they bring a fresh new energy. Tempt is this generations’ Van Halen!” is definitely overkill, in my book. I mean, to be this generation’s Van Halen you have to be something extremely damn special – and then some. I think most people have a hard time believing in that and to me it gives me the feeling that the band might just not be all that, but if we try hard enough, maybe someone will believe the hype. But enough of that. Tempt is a New York based band, four young guys – Zach Allen (vocals), Harrison Marcello (guitar, keyboards), Nicholas Burrows (drums) and Max McDonald (bass) – that apparently had the songs, the looks and a sound good enough for legendary producer Michael Wagener (Dokken, Warrant, Skid Row, White Lion) to take the guys under his wings and produce their debut album – which hopefully should say something about the band.

Opener “Comin’ On To You” have a pretty catchy chorus – this is pop metal with its feet in 1991. There’s a small Van Halen influence here, but the groove smells more like Extreme and even though the song is pretty good, it lacks identity and feels somewhat forgettable. “Under My Skin” might appeal to fans of Finnish glam rockers Reckless Love – a really poppy thing with a chorus that sticks. I like the tune and I sure prefer it to any Reckless Love song out there. “Paralyzed” has a nice groove and a nice melody and I think of Steel Panther without the under-the-belt humor when I hear it. Ok song! “Use It or Lose It” is another catchy pop metal stomper and again Reckless Love comes to mind  and it makes me curious if the Finnish rockers are an influence on this band. If it is, then lose that influence, Reckless Love just aren’t good enough or original enough to borrow stuff from. The title track is a Whitesnake “Is This Love” – esque ballad, it’s actually pretty good but the whole vibe of the song comes with the thirteen a dozen power ballads that came out a year or so after the big power ballad boom in the early 90’s. It’s first with “Aamina” that they guys hits the nail on its head for the first time. It’s a bona fide pop metal hit with all the hooks in the world and a chorus that is harder to get rid of than herpes. Not that that you’d want to get rid of it – the chorus, that is. “Sapphire” rocks things up a bit and has a more early 80’s hard rock and even a metal feel, kind of like Europe back in 1984, but with an AOR twist. This is the way the guys should go, in my opinion – the best song on this record. “The Fight” is really good as well – it leans more towards early 80’s AOR such as Streets, City Boy and Wrabit. On this song, the guys have managed to pull out some killer melodies and another really ballsy chorus that sticks like glue – good job. The Van Halen influence is more obvious on “What Is Love” than on any other song on the record. It sounds like they have tried to rewrite said band’s “Dance The Night Away”. It’s really too close for comfort, but with a more AOR vibe on it. Think Nelson meets Van Halen and you’re pretty close.

The band goes into late 80’s power balladry once more with “Time Won’t Heal” and even though it’s catchy and not bad at all it feels like I have heard this song – and especially the chorus – a million times before. “Love Terminator” sounds like a song a close-but-no-cigar band like Baton Rouge or Babylon A.D. rejected back in 1992 – the spirit of Jack Ponti is all over the chorus. Unfortunately, this one goes nowhere, something many Jack Ponti’s co-writes also did back when. “Fucked Up Beautiful” is mediocre on a good day and the whole thing just reeks of clichés stapled upon each other – it’s really surprising that a producer like Wagener let a song like this slip through. “Neuro-Child” sounds like something the second line-up of Crashdïet forgot to put on their record, an ok song but way too middle-of-the-road and therefore passes by unnoticed and “Dirty One” is an everyday sleaze rocker, standard one and nothing special at all and as I write this, I can’t remember what any of the last two songs sounds like. The final curtain calls with a different mix of “Aamina”, a MW mix apparently. I have no clue of what MW means and to be honest, if there is any difference between the original version and this one, it’s barely audible because I sure can’t hear it.

Ok. First of all, Tempt are NOT this generation’s Van Halen – not even close. And the album clearly shows that it is recorded by a bunch of young guys. Not that it’s bad because it isn’t but on too many occasions the sound is somewhat amateurish and they are in big need of an identity of their own, as it is now, I just can’t hear what Tempt really sound like, all I hear is their influences which they wear very visibly on their sleeves. Also, the cover art needs a mention. Now, some people will probably say that it’s cool, that it is stripped, raw and different, but I don’t agree one bit. I think it’s lame and looks like something rushed, something you could use for a demo disc or something like that. In my eyes, it looks like you don’t really give a rat. See, for many fans of this kind of music, the cover art still means something – it sure does for me. The reason for this is obviously that they lack experience, something that will come as time goes by. Because there is potential here, lots of potential – all the guys need to do is to find their sound and make sure they hold on to that no matter what. But for now, a few really good songs just don’t cut it all the way through and I do think this band is good and interesting enough to keep an eye open for and follow into the future. This band might just has a melodic hard rock killer album in them somewhere even though they might not be Van Halen of any generation.



1. Comin’ On To You
2. Under My Skin
3. Paralyzed
4. Use It Or Lose It
5. Runaway
6. Aamina
7. Sapphire
8. The Fight
9. What Is Love
10. Time Won’t Heal
11. Love Terminator
12. Fucked Up Beautiful
13. Neuro-Child
14. Dirty One
15. Aamina MW-mix