As a proud petrol head, I appreciate all forms of cars, from hot rods, to classic cars to today’s containers of mechanical wizardry. Some car makers have tried to recreate the past with their take on what things used to be, whilst weaving in current approaches. The Mini, Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro come immediately to mind. If they can encapsulate why their ancestors worked well, without tinkering with that too much, it’s a winner. The public enjoy the result, making connections to their own past. But, stray from the formula too much and result is unlovely and irritating. In short, don’t mess with what works.
Music is like this too. Bands that draw heavily from a particular type of music or era can reach people on all kinds of levels.
The five members of The Brink draw heavily on the components of 1980s hard rock and metal. Lead singer Tom Quick described their work as that of “unity and compassion, that no matter who you are, there is a place for you on this earth.” This album is the stretched limousine of records, with 14 tracks, lasting 54 minutes.
“Little Janie” sped off from pole position, introducing us to the clear, clean production quality of these songs. It was about looking for something bigger in life, of dreaming of big city goals. “Break these Chains” began with guitars at breakneck speed and it featured a supercharged guitar solo.
“Never Again” had a familiar feel with some extremely melodic vocal harmonies and it spoke of not buying into the games others play in love. The chorus lapped around a few times and it had me singing along.
At this point I was waiting for the ballad and “Save Goodbye” purred in. It featured a slow opening and the guitars wailed appropriately reflective tones. Cue: smoke machine, pining stares into the middle distance and the wind gently rustling perms. It was period correct during every moment.
“Take Me Away” was Foo Fighters-like and called for someone to take the person away from here, as they are barely holding on. “One Night Only” rumbled in with a swagger that is a bit more bludgeoning and the harmony and key changes were inspired.
“Wish” opened with acoustic licks and nodded without shame to Bon Jovi. It featured a killer guitar solo and some orchestral components and was about people not giving up on each other. “Said and Done” featured great guitar wails and these drove through the track.
“Fairytale” had me sitting up so fast I spilled my beverage. It had a nasty opening with a whole different drive. It stripped back, started again, took off, slowed down and repeated. This track was abundantly varied and it was a real showcase of the talent and enthusiasm of this band.
“Don’t Count Me Out” opened with some turbo guitar licks and wails. The track was about rising above and conquering the challenges that come your way. The grainy vocals at the end showed that Tom Quick’s voice is as versatile as current day GT. “Nothing to Fear” changed down a few gears, opening with acoustic guitar and then electric guitar overlaid. The real focal point was when the bass and drums cruised in. It was anthemic in the best possible way.
“No Way Back” really highlighted the twin guitar riffs and the vocal range and harmonies were plain to hear. “Are You With Me” had a ballad-like guitar opening and it again used the stripped back feel to great effect. The album closed with “Burn”, which had as its theme the need to be strong and to stand up – a great way to cross the finish line.
This album was bristling with old school, V8-like, hard hitting riffs, singalong moments and plaintive ballads. It embraced and celebrated those who have gone before in this genre, rather than denying the links to their work. It was a very friendly record of rock, rhythm and groove, with the twin guitar riffs and guitar solos often being high horsepower. The vocals and harmonies were emotional and evocative.
I think that you could play this at any gathering and most people would enjoy it, if not be dancing to it. It’s like a hot rod that has been assembled from some great cars – Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Foo Fighters and Bullet for my Valentine.
My one issue – and it’s a small one – is like current muscle cars, it’s a bit TOO clean and civilised. The production of the tracks is clean on a sanitary scale. Some more scratchy, dirty moments would have added to the feeling of this record. But, to each their own.
This is an album of infectious enthusiasm about music, love and life. It takes us on a ride – sometimes racing, sometimes cruising – but it is a grand ride indeed.
Review by Greg Noble