Outside – Naked (2016)

outside_naked2 out of 5 Stars!

Warning: the genre label of “Progressive Rock” used on several music-related websites when it comes to describing this album is sadly inaccurate. On 2016’s Naked, Outside has lost nearly all of its former Neo-Prog sound from the days of the Freedom album in 2002, and now the band seems to be an Alternative Rock act with only a few Progressive Rock touches, such as during the ending section of “The Plague is Back” and, perhaps, the middle chunk of “Merry Go Round.” But trust me, I’m being generous when seeking out the potential Prog-Rock here. Therefore, here’s a second warning for fans of the group’s Freedom album: Neo-Prog fans expecting to hear anything similar to groups such as Genesis or Marillion or IQ, etc., will be sorely disappointed.

On Naked, the vocals (obviously performed by a different singer from the band’s 2002 release) are borderline “out of key” throughout most of the album and delivered in a lazy style, which, based on my rather limited experience with Alternative Rock, is unfortunately the type of tuneless, lethargic vocal style I frequently associate with this genre (and the reason I don’t gravitate toward this genre either). Moreover, the musicianship is also just “average,” with almost zero in the way of any Neo-Prog guitar or keyboard tones one might expect, with the song arrangements and melodies being, in many respects, ultra simplistic and similar sounding.

I’m not sure what happened within the band that its style would change so drastically from the Freedom album…I’m assuming it has to do with some members leaving the fold and new members (with their individual non-Progressive influences) joining. Be that as it may, the years have obviously not been kind to Outside when it comes to its former Neo-Prog sound, songwriting abilities, or general creativity. The band seems to have “regressed” instead of “progressed.” For an Alternative Rock band, however, the “new” Outside is probably “acceptable,” but sadly, this is not the style of music I can truly appreciate.

Warrant 96 – Belly to Belly – Volume One (1996)

Warrant_Belly1.5 out of 5 Stars!

Though I give Warrant (or on this release, Warrant 96) a lot of credit for branching out and experimenting with different sounds and arrangements, this hodgepodge of various styles just doesn’t gel.

There are some decent tracks tossed into the mess, but skipping from one track to another to locate them is just too time consuming.

Additionally, the strange filters and sound effects continually applied to the vocals become silly and annoying. It might not have been too bad had it been done on a single track, for experimentation sake, but there are way too many tracks destroyed by this nonsense.

I was never a huge fan of Warrant to begin with, but this release basically put the final nail in the Warrant coffin for me.

Mötley Crüe – Generation Swine (1997)

MotleyCrue_Swine.jpg0.5 out of 5 Stars!

After probably the BEST Motley Crue album featuring the excellent vocalist John Corabi, the band returned with this piece of utter shit! Seriously, what the fuck is this crap? Mötley Crüe playing Alternative Rock? Give me a break!

I listened to the album (barely) twice, but couldn’t stand the sound of it, and Vince’s vocals are the worst in history. Why the band fired Corabi in order to lure Vince back into the fold (a less competent singer if I have ever heard one) is a mystery.

Needless to say, I never again listened to this album, nor did I purchase any subsequent release by this band. The John Corabi album was the best the band ever did, and sorry to say, they never recovered from the loss. Greed…ah, yes, greed…the previous album didn’t sell a g’zillion units, so they attempted to make magic with the old singer and got nothing but crap (and half the sales) for their efforts. I hope they learned a valuable lesson for their lust for greed.

Hand – Kintsugi (2014)

Hand_Kintsugi2 out of 5 Stars!

I felt this a rather strange merging of Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal, Gothic Rock, and Alternative Rock with a female lead vocalist. Can’t quite pinpoint a specific style.

And upon listening to the album, I can’t say I was too impressed. The mishmash of styles doesn’t gel for me at all, but gives the album a rather disjointed feel, leaving me a tad unnerved. Additionally, the lack of diverse melodies, with the vocalist sticking to a limited range of notes (basically the same two octaves), and her slightly off-key delivery on several lines (along with some weird phasing effects on her voice), and some noisy production on several tracks as well as some (intentional?) discordant guitars, etc., also adds to the off-putting feel of the album.

Bottom line?…I doubt I will investigate further into this band’s back catalogue.