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scott adams

21 octayne

German rockers 21 Octayne veer wildly from the sublime to the ridiculous over the course of this, their second album; and, if one was feeling generous, one might say that that unsteadiness on the tiller means there really is something for everyone on this album.

However, it's unlikely that someone savouring, for instance, the double-kick fuelled hair metal mayhem of opener 'Devil In Disguise' (a song White Lion might have recorded had they worshipped Motorhead rather than Van Halen) will have the remotest interest in the awful, Creed-styled radio rock grunge-lite of 'When You Go', so in all honesty it's hard to see that many punters that this record will appeal to in toto.

'Take Me Back' is another one for the rockers, the fine, assured vocal of Hagen Grohe again inviting comparisons with Mike Tramp, whilst 'Love's Just a Heartbreak Away' is the sort of stripped-back AOR Bon Jovi used to deal in in their later Sambora years. It's consummately put together, well performed, high quality ear candy to be sure, but somehow even the best material here falls just a little short in some almost indefinable way.

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Apart, that is, from the tremendous 'Lost', which is a tremendous lighter-toting anthem that is stopped from being an all-time classic by the fact that it wasn't written in 1992; Like 'When You Go', there are slight notes of grunge creeping in around the edges, but this time the band handles them well, using the instrumentation to back Grohe's majestic pipes with maximum efficiency, building to a series of hair-raising crecendos that don't pale with repeated listening. This truly is classic rock for the modern age.

Elsewhere 'Take Me Away' features some blistering riffage from former Axxis, erm, axxeman Marcus Wreidt but suffers from an ultimately forgettable chorus, whilst the Gotthardish 'Fly With Me' shows that Zeppelinesque stompers are also within the bands remit; ten-minute closer 'Tale Of A Broken Child' shows that this band isn't all about sugar hits and multi-platform accessibility, moving through a series of moods and colours with seamless ease. 'The Circle' doesn't fare as well, featuring some dated-sounding slap bass and a sub-par chorus that fails despite another top-drawer performance from Groh.

He's a bit of a star is Groh – I guess you don't get to work with Joe Perry if you're not – and it's his performance that will keep you listening to the album all the way through whatever your take on the songs he's singing. And whether that take places them as good, bad, or indifferent, there's no denying that 21 Octayne put their all into everything they turn their hands to, a fact which just about means that '2.0' really is worth a little bit of everyone's attention.

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