Thursday, March 22, 2018

Album Review: Bulletboys - From Out Of The Skies

Is there still a place in this world for 80s glam metal? I really don't know the answer to that. While it was popular in the moment it came out, the shine didn't last for long, despite so many of those bands continuing on for decades afterward. Even today, we continually hear about bands from that time period either still forging ahead, or getting back together. My best guess is the people who were listening at the time have reached the age where they need to make one last push toward youth before hanging up the fight. Whatever the case, we don't live in glam times. The world is too depressing, too ugly, for old-time hedonism.

The love of the 80s has never made any sense to me. Rock and metal fans pride themselves on putting the music ahead of the image, of rewarding talent above marketing. And yet, we have this wistful nostalgia for the time period where record companies and MTV were shoving bands down our throats for no reason other than they looked 'good' in videos. That's a relative term, since there was never anything 'metal' about wearing makeup and long hair.

Bulletboys may have started out in the glam world, but that's not where they are today. This album, recorded in Dave Grohl's studio, certainly takes more than a passing influence from Foo Fighters. Between the way the riffs are constructed, to the inclusion of some screaming vocals at times, there is barely a moment on the album where I wasn't thinking about how much it sounds like them. That isn't by itself a bad thing. Foo Fighters used to be a good band, and they have a litany of great tracks that have become a part of us all.

That being said, I'm always a bit taken aback when a record sounds so much like someone else, to the point where I feel it has to be intentional. I felt that way when Soen came on the scene with an album that was more Tool than Tool (they have since redeemed themselves), and I feel that way here. I am by no means someone who needs every band to be pushing boundaries and forging new paths for rock music. I don't care at all if every song is verse/chorus, or if there isn't anything that hasn't been done before, so long as the songs are well written.

That's what makes judging this album so odd. I feel like I should be knocking Bulletboys a few points because of how blatant their influence here comes through, but at the same time I want to give them credit for doing it better than Grohl and his cohorts have for the last two album cycles. The fact of the matter is that while this album might live in a shadow, it's a light that can cast its own.

As a modern sounding rock record, yes in that mold I've mentioned, Bulletboys have done well for themselves. They music is a bit rough around the edges, and the vocals could use more weight behind them, but their songwriting hits the mark more often than not. They deliver the kinds of melodies and choruses that have escaped Foo Fighters now that the latter band has moved into pretentious 70s mode. Sure, there are missteps along the way, but the majority of the album is rock solid stuff that impressed me, and exceeded my relatively low expectations.

Look, I'm not going to tell you Bulletboys have crafted a classic album here, but "From Out Of The Skies" is a good album that has something to offer if you haven't been finding a lot of great music this year. This one is a decent way of biding your time until the next great thing comes along.

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