Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Album Review: Adrenaline Rush - Soul Survivor

I'm not sure exactly why it is, but when I see rock and metal albums that are being released, there's always a little note alerting the audience when the singer is female. That sounds ridiculous when I say it, and there is something rather sexist about the practice. Are rock and metal fans really so saturated with machismo that they can't handle a woman fronting a band? I don't know if it's out of spite, or if I'm just weird, but when I see that designation, I'm actually more drawn to check out the music. I'm rather fond of strong women singing rock and roll, so I was always going to check out the sophomore release from Adrenaline Rush.

I didn't hear this band's debut album, so I can't make a comment on the changes they've undergone in the time since, but this album finds them playing a very late-era Dio variety of hard rock. It has the basic feeling of the 80s, but with a tempo and heaviness that is more restrained than those drug-fueled days.

What that does is give more room in the mix for Tåve Wanning's vocals, which are obviously the biggest selling point for the band. Putting aside her presence as the image of the band, her voice is what is going to carry these songs. She isn't the typical rock and roll sounding woman. She's more piercing, and isn't going to carry the songs on the sheer character of her voice the way some other singers are able to. She needs the songs to work for what she does well, which I don't mean to sound as a slight.

The thing about playing 80s inspired hard rock is that it's an era that wasn't reliant on melodies. The form was still new enough at generating attention, especially in the nascent days of MTV, that the songwriting of even the classic bands of the time would fall short of expectations today. As much as I love Dio, the albums he put out with his namesake band were often filled with songs that were painfully under-written and boring. That's the fault Adrenaline Rush needs to be careful to avoid.

They do a solid job of it, too. Coming out of the gate, the initial run of tracks do a good job of balancing their rock edge with enough melody to serve as worthwhile showcases for Tåve's voice. Later, when we arrive at "Break The Silence", we get the perfect example of what she, and the band, are capable of. It's a perfect few minutes of hard rock glory.

And sure, there are a few tracks here that are too cliche and not exciting enough, but those are the exception. The majority of "Soul Survivor" is well worth the time. There are little tweaks to the band's sound that could probably better play to their strengths, but those are the sorts of discoveries that come with time. For now, they're on a good path. "Soul Survivor" is an enjoyable album, and Tåve is setting the band up for a solid future. At least for those people who aren't limited by their inability to accept something slightly different from their rock music.

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