Melodic hard rock is the genre which simply refuses to die. Grunge had a good go at wiping it off the face of the earth in the early 90s but it carried on as an underground scene which persists until this day.
The big hitters of old like Journey and Def Leppard still pack them in at arenas worldwide however the newer generation of musicians promoting this style of music have struggled to find a wider audience than the hardcore. This doesn't stop it though and specialist labels like AOR Heaven keep the small army of devotees happy by trying to unearth new acts to keep the flame alive.
Dead End Heroes are really a band which evolved out of a solo project from Swiss drummer Daniel Vogeli. Some international networking by the people involved with him meant they ended up with a Swiss/German/Scottish line up but as is the way with this style of music you'd never know as the album sounds like it was made with American 80s radio plays in mind.
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There is the odd nod to the 70s such as in the Purple-esque intro to 'Stormfront' but overall there is much more here that harks back to the heyday of the likes of Dokken and the US friendly spandexed up version of Whitesnake.
'Roadkill' is full of melodic riffing and harmonies and big choruses while singer Carsten Lizard Schulz hits all he right hard rock notes with strong, melodic but slightly rough around the edges vocals.
Typical is the rocking rifferama of 'Hands Off The Wheel' with the inevitable big chorus with multiple harmonies and the song that gave their band their name, 'Dead End Heroes' sounds like a cross between the Scorpions and Saxon's more commercial moments.
The pace does change in the more measured and epic style of 'The Wind Howls Fire' and 'The Fire's Worth The Loneliness' has some original song structure to it so you're never quite sure where it's going making it stand out here. Overall though the mid paced rocking of 'And The Loser Is' and 'Cry For The Moon' is where Dead End Heroes are most comfortable, bringing their riffs, harmonies and solos alive in an environment uncluttered with groundbreaking ideas.
There is much to recommend this album to lovers of the genre. All the musicians are very, very good and if you want an album with a mixture of riffing guitars, harmonies and fluid guitar solos like grunge never happened than you'll be very happy.
The funny thing is that on paper an album like that sounds like an awesome idea to me but in practice I found myself referencing too many other bands and right now I would struggle to say anything about Dead End Heroes which marks them out as original with something no other band has.
Maybe it's that the song writing doesn't quite match the musicianship on display which makes 'Roadkill' a hugely competent album but not one that got me really excited. A missed opportunity I think.
Daniel Voegeli - drums
Rolf Munkes - guitar
Paul Logue - bass
Holger Seeger - keyboards
Carsten Lizard Schulz - vox