Adler - 'Back From The Dead' (New Ocean Media) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Gaz E   
Monday, 26 November 2012 03:00

ADLERalbumPutting me firmly in the minority I guess, I enjoyed Steven Adler's 2010 book 'My Appetite For Destruction' for the music-related tales told. All the talk about El Duce from The Mentors and stealing moves from Stryper's Robert Sweet and the like derailing, for me at least, the detailed trainwreck.

 

The news that Steven was dropping the 'Appetite' from his solo band and settling on the simple 'Adler' as a moniker hardly sent major shockwaves through the music world - the news that his former Guns N' Roses bandmate and close friend Slash was to appear on the debut album from this new band rippled more as the headline makers looked for yet more dirt for their long running GN'R soap operas. Take it as some kind of skewed payback then that as the big orange Axl creature finally becomes the ginger equivalent of the twisted svengali whose face adorned many a vintage stage wear shirt of his, orchestrating his own murders by slaughtering classic songs with his hired family/band o' Kens, the people he saw fit to leave out of his GN'R vision have overtaken him in almost every sense: musically, aesthetically and in all counts of respect-gaining.

 

Slash's solo work continues to snowball, Duff McKagan has rightfully become some kind of ambassador of cool, while Izzy Stradlin continues to churn out impressive slabs of rock 'n' roll, albeit more under the radar than some of his more spotlight-friendly former bandmates; just where he likes it, you suspect. So, from the classic, and best, Guns N' Roses line-up, that just leaves Steven Adler.


Adler's Appetite first hit the road back in 2003, playing a spattering of original tunes alongside the choicest cuts from the seminal 'Appetite For Destruction' but, with the band name for a start, and the fact that the revolving cast list of a line-up consisted of rock journeymen - Chip Z'Nuff, Brent Muscat, Robbie Crane, Jizzy Pearl, Michael Thomas, Keri Kelli, Alex Grossi, etc - it always smacked of being little more than a soundtrack to a good night out, a chance to get some CDs signed. So how would Adler, this new band that actually sees Steven keeping his '...Appetite' guitarist Lonny Paul alongside him, differ? Well, seeing as Paul only joined Adler's Appetite in 2011, the band dissolving upon tour end, the hope would be that Steven could tap into something cool and drag something fresh out of this new project. Easier said than done, I hear you say. Hasn't every other '80s metal (barely) survivor rolled out this formulaic hyperbole on every single occasion when Perris or Cleopatra Records has saw fit to dribble another one of their turgid comeback albums towards release for the world at large to ignore?

 

It's hard to believe, you might even want to read this sentence over again later, but Adler, both man and band, has torn up that well-thumbed book of rock 'n' roll cliché and turned out an album that is....wait for it...really fuckin' cool. Forget the drama, forget the guest appearances, 'Back From The Dead' - has an album title ever been more appropriate? - is, quite simply, a rollicking, ass-kicker of a record.


Two things hit hard as the album's title track crashes out: the production from former Dokken four stringer Jeff Pilson is suitably, and thankfully, massive; the sound that this band has crafted as their own is not in the least bit dated as some may have expected. Instead, Adler strike out in heavy, contemporary fashion - this is the kinda sound that looks pretenders like Papa Roach right in the eye and tells them "okay, you've had a stab at 'street metal' or whatever the fuck you and your kind want to call it, now jump on that nearest bandwagon/haircut and leave it to the big boys."

 

Lyrically, 'Back From The Dead' - both album and song - smacks (pun, sadly, intended) of desperate and autobiographical times. Life teetering on the brink of collapse must be hellish...but makes for some great art. Sonically, the recruitment of frontman Jacob Bunton is a masterstroke; the guy takes command of this album from the off and more than holds his own in some esteemed company - the band is completed by bassist Johnny Martin, last seen in Tracii Guns' version of L.A. Guns and known to the more clued-in Uber Rocker for his stint in The Chelsea Smiles.

 

The aforementioned album opener, the title track, eases in on a dark Country vibe before exploding into life, heavy of riff, bass rumbling, with a hook as catchy as fly paper. 'Own Worst Enemy' (what was I saying about autobiographical lyrics?!) speaks in Weiland tongue as it channels a Velvet Revolver style verse from beyond the musical grave, before opening up into its own, another solid hitter. 'Another Version Of The Truth' is as infectious as a zombie bite, while the album's lead single, 'The One That You Hated', (which you've all already heard, and liked, surely?) fuses timeless arena rock sounds to the body of some great melodies.

 

'Good To Be Bad', the new single, features the first of a couple of high profile guest appearances, current Rob Zombie/former Marilyn Manson guitarist John 5 bending for friends, but, apart from a solo that borders on the crazed, the song itself is the true standout, a terrace chant of a chorus proving most memorable. The power ballad makes its first appearance of the record, alongside that of Slash, on 'Just Don't Ask', but this isn't your run of the mill (soft) rock standard: sure, it pushes every emotion-button required of its ilk, but it does so with its feet planted firmly in the here-and-now rather than the who-cares-when.

 

'Blown Away' houses possibly the hugest riff of the entire record and wraps it around a gang vocal catchier than a rubbish criminal. It's ballad time again (so soon?) when 'Waterfall' crashes down around your speakers but, sounding like something from this year's 'The View From The Bottom' comeback album from Lit, it scales new heights for a band formed around an Eighties legend. Forget about heights for around three and a half minutes as 'Habit', my favourite track from the album, kicks in, lyrically finding new lows yet aurally taking this album to its peak; a snarling, depraved beast of a track, 'Habit' is the one song that you should play to a friend to convince them that Adler are worthy of their time and money. 'Your Diamonds' is more subtle, yet little less impressive - another great melody line draping itself over a mid-paced rocker that breaks no new ground, yet sexes up what is already there. There's a definite Enuff Z'Nuff vibe to the mid-section, Chip's influence possibly still wafting through Steven's nostrils. The album closes with 'Dead Wrong', another polished tune that motors this album home to its conclusion in fine style.

 

'Dead Wrong' - I wonder how many listeners will have that statement crudely flash across their minds come album chucking out time?

 

Written off, killed off, snubbed, subbed, mocked: Steven Adler might have been the butt of way too many jokes over the years, one even of album title size, but the guy is having the last laugh, finally. Scrub that, let's not hope this is the last laugh, the last hurrah - 'Back From The Dead' is a cool fuckin' record that plants Steven firmly back in the game...how long he stays in is entirely up to him. With an album like this to back him up he should busy himself batting away the plaudits rather than the demons but, again, that's easier said than done.


I never thought Adler would, could, produce an album as good as 'Back From The Dead' - I am happy to stand corrected. Many of you, I'm sure, will have had the same thoughts. With a great band in front of him, Steven Adler appears to have his true appetite back....this could be the most unlikely success story yet.

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To pick up your copy of 'Back From The Dead' - CLICK HERE