New bands. New music by old bands. I love that. The world would be a way duller place without finding new stuff. Unfortunately, many of whom has reached my age have stopped caring long ago and are comfortable listening to their old records and to Classic Rock radio. On one hand, I get why – people get older, get married, have kids, buys houses and a family car with accompanying mortgages which means working more hours and then there’s the kids dancing lessons, hockey, soccer etc. practice – there’s simply enough time to indulge in checking stuff out like when they were younger. But the other part of me just don’t get why as an old music fan you can help yourself from doing it. Maybe I’m just a weird specimen and the rest is the normal ones. That’s why I love young dudes and dudettes for still trying and older rockers for never giving in. And labels like Frontiers for signing up them all in a time when people think that Spotify is da shit and never buys hard copies at all.
This is why I’m determined to review as many of the new and upcoming bands as I can. Sometimes they’re to my liking and sometimes they’re not. What I don’t subscribe to is the stupid “everything has already been done anyway, so why bother” or “everything was better back in the day”. That’s just BS. Good music will always be good music. Well, enough of the rants, I brought it up because British melodic rockers Passion is one of those new bands. Formed by former Night By Night singer Daniel Rossall, who has renamed himself Lion Ravarez, he brought with him guitarist Chance Vanderlain, bassist Weston James and drummer Bobby Laker to create music that would be a mixture of early 90’s Hard Rock and 80’s sounding AOR – stuff that went down like a storm in arenas and stadiums back in the day. This is the stuff that’s right up a label like Frontiers’ alley and after going through Ravarez’ demos, they signed the band.
The album opens with “Intensity”, an uptempo, pretty punchy rocker with a clear Metal influence that reminds me of a heavier Crazy Lixx. On a tough beat and George Lynch inspired guitars – both in riffs and solo – there are more hints of Dokken’s more edgier work when it comes to melody structure as well. The refrain is simple yet catchy and this one sure does its job as an opener – I guess it will be one when the band hit the stage as well. Nothing new under the sun here, but a damn good track anyway. Leading single “Trespass On Love” is up next. It’s a melodic hard-rocker in a mid tempo taken right out of 1989. It’s a poppy little number yet still guitar driven and style-wise not a far cry for Danger Danger. It’s a good, catchy arena-rocker albeit a bit standard which makes it not outstanding by any means.
Passion takes a different twist with “Too Bad For Baby”. Here we’re given a typical early 90’s sleaze-rocker with some large chunks of late 80’s American Arena Rock. The style is pretty much of the kind by the bands that jumped on the sleaze-glam-arena-rock wandwagon just when the scene started to fade. Sure, it’s a crunchy rocker with both attitude and grit but when the day is done it’s just another decent rocker that really don’t stand out or stick. Not bad, it just is. Some more Danger Danger influences comes up in the big melodies of “Lost In The Dark”, a hard-rocker with a Melodic Rock twist. It’s a guitar-driven track – again see the Lynch file for information – but also big poppiness with sky-rocketing harmonies and a high-note vocal deliverance from Ravarez. It’s a good song with a decent refrain but hardly anything out of the ordinary.
“Back” is a super-charged sleaze-rocker that holds a tough, beefy groove, an in-your-face outlook and a smaller bluesier touch, like a sleazier Cinderella with a pop vibe, with a good dose of crunch. The song sure kicks up some dust with a direct and striking chorus and the whole thing sounds as if it was written with the stage in mind. Best one so far. Like a sleazier version of 80’s Kiss, “Victims Of Desire” brings on a bouncy rhythm, fist-in-the-air type and a rough outlook – kick-ass Rock with lots of attitude. It’s another one that will probably work well live and it’s an ok song, however the chorus could be more striking and memorable. “We Do What What We Want” brings on every cliché you can imagine, lyrically and musically this is an attitude-laden, sleazy hard-rocker with a commercial touch taken right out of the early 90’s. I’m not gonna put the chainsaw on the track but it’s really nothing special and I’ve heard this a million times before. I’m not aroused.
“Built To Please” sends a dirty rocking groove our way and early Bulletboys is a just comparison here but there is also Sammy Hagar fronted Van Halen waved in here and there. Again, I do like the song while listening but this glammy sleaze rocker with its feet in the early 90’s fades too fast from my memory. On a solid, hard ground, “She Bites Hard” grooves with AC/DC style both in riffs and rhythm, very rowdy and tight. As the song goes on, Shotgun Messiah’s debut album also comes to mind – heavy and punchy with a fun-loving party vibe, very in-your-face with guts and dirt. There’s nothing original about this song at all but I kinda dig it anyway. They close the record with a step into 1990 where Arena Rock still ruled and they add a crunchy chunk of sleaze to the recipe. This too feels like more of a live-song because of its direct, kick-up-dust type of arrangement. On record it falls somewhat short and even though it’s punchy, kicking and biting, it never passes ok.
What I do love about the album is the the band’s true and honest intentions and their love for this kind of music, that they never apologizes for doing an album with everything they love about Hard Rock. They shamlessly and proudly wear their influences on their sleeves – and I respect that. But still, the music’s way too unoriginal and they lack identity in too many ways. For instance, Ravarez sounds like a mixture of Ted Poley (Danger Danger), Zinny J Zan (Shotgun Messiah), Marq Torien (Bulletboys) with a little Joel Ellis (Cats In Boots) thrown in for good measure and while there’s nothing wrong with showing off your influences, I still haven’t figured out what Ravarez really sound like. Song wise, they do have some really good songs but most of them falls on the bland side – pretty good but not lasting. Sound wise, this band sounds like the a-bit-too-late bands of the early 90’s – a little more pop Roxy Blue, Southgang and the likes. There are potential here for sure – and I’m sure they’re fun to watch live – but until next time, an identity and a sound of their own is much needed. And some more catchy-as-hell songs!
2. Trespass On Love
3. Too Bad For Baby
4. Lost In The Dark
6. Victims Of Desire
7. We Do What We Want
8. Built To Please
9. She Bites Hard
10. Big Game