The album kicks off with the ominously titled “Bitch In The Box” and immediately we’re met with classic sounding guitar licks straight out of the heydays of traditional metal with some slow, chugging riffs; it’s a solid piece of metal, with Steve Kudlow’s course delivery having harmonic, gang vocal accompaniment it’s a fairly balanced track…but who is this bitch? Why is she boxed? Is there a woman trapped? Buried alive? Nope…he’s singing about Satnav…Fucking. Satnav…is this a theme for old bands now? ACCEPT did it with “Analog Man” and now this…what’s next? Ozzy singing about Pokemon GO? I digress…we follow this up with “Ego” and this is more like it. It’s a short sharp dose of up-tempo, thrash based hard rock and it’s this style, as too made popular by the likes of MOTORHEAD back in the day that laid the foundations for a lot of the fast paced metal we know and love today and the band have clearly still got it in them, with a decent solo to boot; this is much better.
This can also be said for album highlight “Black Smoke” which is very much more of the same with it’s raw, gravelly delivery and, in ways we can include the title track too…peculiar this however as it’s rare to find a title track that’s an instrumental midway through a record. It does break up the album nicely with some well-executed guitar melodies and to be honest it’s just different, it works well. Sadly however, the following tracks don’t…”Rock That Shit” for example…while on one hand can be discarded as merely a song to enjoy and head-bang to with a beer in hand…it’s also fucking cringe-worthy lyrically…from a band virtually celebrating a 40 year anniversary it’s hard to ignore. I’m all for humour in content, I’m all for not taking yourself seriously, but this is elementary school stuff. “Smash Your Face” is another one…and this doesn’t even have up-beat music going for it, I’m going to actually smash my face instead of listening to this one again. Eventually we close on “Don’t Tell Me” and while musically I guess it’s anti-climactic, somewhat middle of the road, it at least touches on relevant social-political topics regarding fake news and the ridiculous state of government right now. Overall, this one’s going to appeal to certain demographics…naturally they have their fans, they are well established in metal circles, but outside of those, and the demented denim-clad rockers you’ll find constantly drunk on Red Stripe moshing to anything they can get their ears on (Think Hell Boy and his cronies from the movie “Haggard”) this doesn’t really have a large target audience. Pounding the pavement or a pounding headache…you be the judge.