The reason why you should be reading this review if you weren't already aware, is that the band line-up features a major guest contribution by Don Airey (Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Gary Moore...) on the ol' Hammond B3 and the main line-up encompasses the talents of Tim Bogert (bassist – Vanilla Fudge, Cactus...) and Vinny Appice (drummer - Dio, Black Sabbath, Kill Devil Hill).
Phew, enough to make my glasses steam up. Add to the chemistry a vocal presence which weaves effortlessly close to David Coverdale in the shape of Steph Stevens (vocals and guitars) and you instantly slurp from a cocktail which sparkles and sizzles with some sort of expectation.
Hollywood Monsters is really Stevens' project who called in the experience and style from his friends to bring his vision to life. They showcase drama at some intervals, atmosphere the next and some top draw Hard Rock music to make you smile from ear to ear. But after a few spins these separate parts of the puzzle don't necessarily flow as a whole piece.
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Yes, I would say it feels disjointed like the ground after an earthquake. Despite the upheaval and varying shades there's plenty to sniff out if you feel so inclined.
'Move On' is a tremendous Hard Rockin' galloping stallion coated in a shell of impervious metal whilst 'Fuck You All' contains a song title that you hope is going to be the biggest attitude anthem of the year. Alas it only garners itself with the credit of ending the album in fine style. "Good" is a word I'd use; not "excellent".
'Big Trouble' is melodic and gets to flex its muscles making this a moment which shines. Talking of moments that bring the house down what about the epic on 'Big Trouble' which towers over all who stand in its way, and goes by the title of 'Village Of The Damned'? It clears the eight minute mark and beats with a progressive heart without a doubt.
They even include a song about me with 'Song For A Fool'. Stevens' tortured vocal performance to a backdrop of laid back instrumentation wallows in its own pity. 'The Ocean' throws some orchestration in the mix along with the accompanying acoustic guitars. The cabaret with an ominous shadow of discomfort continues when you wrap your ears around 'Oh Boy!'
It is an intriguing proposition to let the ear wander through this potpourri of styles and ideas, but it feels a little too like an all-or-nothing prospect. By that, I mean that Stevens has thrown in so many influences into the melting pot that it overwhelms what are some interesting ideas. His singing style takes some getting used to as well, although don't confuse this comment with lack of emotion or conviction, because both of those qualities are in abundance.
'Big Trouble' needed more of the 'Underground', 'Move On' and title track approaches than the adventurous and cavalier performances that grace the rest of the album. The album is one for the explorer who wishes to wrap their ears around a Rock collection with a difference.
Some may believe the album has an identity crisis, but I would disagree. It is an album assembled with a lot of hard work and artistry. Due to its novel nature, 'Big Trouble' is certainly going to pose a few questions and an insufficient amount of answers.
Another Day In Grey – Part 1
The Only Way
Village Of The Damned
Song For A Fool
Fuck You All