Feeling like the dying breed amidst the electro and R&B dominated world in which rock is often labelled old-fashioned, BlackRain took matters in their own hand for their 6th full-length record. Celebrated in their homeland France, where they played at the prestigious HellFest open air, the band not yet bridged the gap to the rest of the globe. Brought to my attention by our Mistress of Baas and Beauty, LiLo, BlackRain’s `Dying Breed’ album found it’s way to my player. After reviewing the new Steel Panther CD, I for a while was stuck in hair metal heaven. On y va!
With Chris Laney handling knob-twisting duties, the first thing catching our attention is the slick, almost Scandi-vibed production of the new album. It immediately shoots away with the ‘na nana na nana na nana naaa’ of the title track. Bullying the chorus factor up to the max the song immediately grips without sky-high pretentions. The party mode is on leaving no holds barred. It is sleazy, it is rocking out loud. All songs pack intense drive and are impressively well-crafted tunes welded onto ravishing bodywork of sticky hooks and clinging riffs. Drums and bass rip away with pulsating power, adding to the lustre of the melodies saucing it up. Cherries on the cake are the extremely well arranged choruses that are down right malicious on the brain. They nest immediately and its recognisable appeal is absolutely addictive. Though we heard it all before, BlackRain certainly fires their attitude above the fold. They make the corkiest clichés come across whipping with energy. The whole thing reeks of quality and panache, without passing on the brawls of the hair metal daze. ,,Hellfire” comes right of Mick Mars’ speakers, driving forward with force. Luckily Max 2 shifts from the opening ,,Looks that Kill”-ish riff into Angus’ best ,,Thunderstruck” reminiscent lick firing on different cylinders. His guitar work is absolutely astonishing: impressive riffs with high recognisable potential and jaw dropping soloing fluent switching back and forth in style and switching duties with vocalist/guitarist Swan. Frank F. antes up the pleasure with a double bass roll right out of Lee’s book, making the comparison even more luxuriant. Not steering clear from comparison BlackRain holds to much originality in a sonically scorched wasteland. They are a true at heart homage to the genre, reviving hairspray-days without ignorance or prejudice. Just check out the impressive ,,Blast Me Up” with its dynamic loud riffs and Heinrich’s throbbing bass lines. The choirs are again of great magnitude and nest on the spot. Swan’s voice is flexible and he draws from a mid-range raw (Blackie Lawless reminiscent) register, frequently hitting the high notes and shouting out loud. He chants with an uproar subdued in his vocals, often added by the multi layered vocal interaction of his band mates. It all gels perfectly and the album keeps running like on rails. More punky orbiting is the cock rocker ,,Nobody Can Change” also featuring their slick benchmark melodic choruses. A loud throbbing bass line take us into another highlight, the intense and out of scope ,,Like Me”, with its pitched high guitars pulling it forward, and Swan drawing from multiple registers. Laced with dramatic neurotic vocal work the song stands out in the glam genre. More mandatory is the predictable, yet tasty mandatory ballad ,,All Angels Have Gone”. The song towers with a great chorus and ditto arrangement. It is a welcome break before jumping on the freight train thundering forward with the riff driven ,,We are the Mayhem” with another larger than life chorus that is absolutely impressive. ,,Rock Radio” is a salute to classic rock as much as to the roaring hair metal’s heydays. It draws from The Who’s classic `Tommy’, with its musical inflicted multi layered vocals, spiced up with a modern riff heavy outline. The song switches to a The Sweet-like mid section with slick melodic choirs and interaction warping us back to the 70s. It fires on all engines and even packs some Queen-ish glimmer and pomp. An unexpected gritty western slide takes into the turmoil fuelled ,,Public Enemy”, which displays the band’s wide array of influences. Without straying from the trademark slick sing-along choirs, the band thunders in ponderous outrage. More subtle is the tacky ,,A Call From The Inside”, evolving about a poppy melody and featuring tasteful light riffs and keen solos throughout the song. Melodic it just ticks like a Swiss clock. Mega melodic it grips with exquisite musical interaction, even the ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs’ add up. More predictable is the following ,,Henny Jen”, a typical party cracker raising the roof and filling up the glasses. Again Max 2 gives it extra appeal with his great timing and keen ear for diversifying guitar sounds, riff techniques and soloing. Closing the album with anarchy drive the band covers the classic Plastic Bertrand track ,,Ca Plane Pour Moi”. A French distorted note on a globally appealing glam record, laden with impressive hooks and attitude.
On `Dying Breed’ BlackRain outclasses the tacky Steel Panther tracks of the new album by miles. It isn’t as far fetched as the lyrical content offered by the L.A. glamsters, and it is musically up to par. The craftsmanship is tremendous and where the US giants draw from the classic 80s American glam registers, BlackRain tends to inject their cock rockers with UK glam extravagance, polished and tarnished to the absolute max. Fusing the best of both worlds creating a highly enjoyable cocktail shooting them instantly to the top ranks of melodic glam metal. Even though many might frown, this album needs to find its way to your players…. Spray that hair and raise hell!