Friday, June 10, 2011

Review: Warrant “Rockaholic”

Melodic Rock/hairband
The revolving door of personnel in the band called Warrant makes the early years of Fleetwood Mac seem pretty stable by comparison. Erik Turner (guitars), who formed the band in 1984, is in the current lineup along with others who have been with him since the early days. The gaping hole is that lead singer and key songwriter Jani Lane has been replaced with Robert Mason (Lynch Mob, Cry Of Love). For most people, Lane defined the sound of Warrant during their peak of popularity and any version of the band without him just isn’t the “real” Warrant they knew and loved. Well, we can sit and debate whether bands that go on without key personnel have a right to continue using the same name, or we can just judge the songs on “Rockaholic” as they stand.

As you can surmise from the title, “Rockaholic” covers standard fodder of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The boys in this rendition of Warrant sound like they are giving it their all – the guitars are loud and proud, the bass and drums create a thunderous backbeat, and Mason belts out the tired lyrics with remarkable gusto. Where the guys come up short is in the songwriting category. Lane’s vocals are not only missed, but so are the melodic hooks that he could write. Not all songs suffer from this deficit – the album is like a sandwich. There is some tasty meat in the middle, but it is flanked by stale bread.

The record begins with songs that attempt to revive an element of the band’s glam roots with “Sex Ain’t Love” and “Innocence Gone”, but these tracks are in need of serious Viagra. Things don’t get very interesting until the power ballad “Home”. Leaving this comfort zone, the band grooves right into a driving mid-tempo number called “What Love Can Do”, which is one of the most accessible on the album. Next up is the first single, “Life’s A Song”, another respectable radio-friendly tune that gets better on repeated listens. Sounds more like a Danger Danger song, but it works for me. After this, things go South again with lukewarm songs like “Cocaine Freight Train” and “Sunshine”, but a decent power ballad is buried on the back half of the record in “Found Forever”. “Found Forever” is a little over the top but on equal footing with the quality of “Home”.

“Rockaholic” ain’t all bad, but I can’t see anyone getting addicted to it. The band needs an intervention. Fans should “cherry” pick the highlights.

iPOD-worthy: 5, 6, 7, 10

Warrantofficial site.

Check out the video for “Life’s A Song”: