Warner Drive

City of Angels

Written by: BW on 29/08/2014 19:50:44

The standard rock scene is a very tough nut to crack as a band, mainly because so much of it sounds the same. That horrid feeling of “You’ve heard one band, you’ve heard ‘em all” can be a very familiar thought that travels through your head like that important thing you know you’ll forget until you get home. The new Warner Drive album, “City of Angels” looks to get itself into this market, but can it differ enough from everything else to make it standout?

The simple answer is, unfortunately, no. I listen to what is on offer throughout and I hear a sound that is generic and almost emotionless. It isn’t to say that the abilities of the band aren’t there, as they’re tight enough and the vocal work for the most part is solid, but I listen to this and I’m thinking that I’m listening to Shinedown or something because the sound is so close to them it is almost insane (which is ironic considering one of the EPs they did was called “The Warner Sound...”

As I listen to “Rising of the Fallen” I can see the good qualities in the band, in that there is a tight band underneath the song, with everything clicking together well and a decent opening effort. It’s catchy enough and with a few of those audience participatory “Whoa-oh-oh” moments. As general rock songs go, it is a good start to the album and you appreciate the mileage that a band with such a reputation of touring has.

When “City of Angels” kicks in though, I begin to get that feeling of hearing this before. There is an almost early My Chemical Romance punk feel to this in terms of the tempo, as well as the vocal build up towards the chorus. The fact you don’t feel engaged in the tune is never a good sign and I’ve listened to this a few times and even with my best will I cannot get immersed in it. Again, it’s played ok, but it just feels a little bland.

If I ever needed to prove a point about hearing all this before then may I bring your attention to “Boys N Girls” as the verse is a slower rip of Iron Maiden’s classic track “The Trooper” and you’ll never have thought of it until you compare the two. I know this mainly because I tried this on a friend and his face went from “WTF?!?!” to “You’ve got a point” in about 2 seconds. The rest of the song is once again predictable. I must also stress that the work behind it all is done well enough, but it feels like there just isn’t enough passion, which is a shame, as the intro to this song had me interested and ready for something pretty cool.

“Radio Love Song” just sounds like the previous song, if I’m honest. The beat is the same and that in turn makes everything else go along with the same tired feel. I actually reckon you could splice the end off the last track and the start of this and make a 6 minute tune, I really do. That’s how little of a difference there actually is.

“Open Our Eyes” does try to change things a little and has some nice movement along some pretty good chord progression and some subtly good harmony. It stands out at least and that is a major advantage. Some time changes here and there also help and results in one of the main high points of the album. It acts as a double edged sword as well though because it shows what can be done by Warner Drive when a bit of variety is added. The only other song that really stands out as a point of mention is “Fully Loaded” right at the end, which produces a fast paced belter of a track to get the feet going, with a feel good factor accompanying you all the way through as well as a nice bit of guitar hidden nicely in there.

Other than that it really is a case where you might as well be listening to anything under the moniker of general rock I’m afraid. The other songs contained within just sound so similar to most other bands out there trying to earn their crust and it really is a shame that their newest commercial release cannot match the impressive live qualities they’ve been linked to. A whole load of touring and hard work got them a good sales figure on their previous album, but that might also be to do with the fact that that actual record is better than this one. “K-GO!” has all that is lacking on “City of Angels” in that it mixes it up when it needs to, has a load of passion and emotion (as well as some explicit language, but then what doesn’t these days?) and lets you sink your teeth into a good effort from a decent band. It almost feels like the producers have told them to play it safe on this record and that has kind of taken the shine off of what could have been a very promising outing for the band from Los Angeles. What we end up with is a well executed album in terms of technique and ability, but not one with a load of originality or raw passion. It is an on-rails album and if you like everything sounding the same then you’ll enjoy this.

I finish by making a passionate plea to the band: You don’t know me and may never do so, but could you please go back to the way you were in 2011 and give us more of what “K-GO!” offered us? Your raw talent and feeling was present there and everything FELT more personal than this new album does.

I know these songs will no doubt sound good when they do all their touring with the fans supporting them, good on them too, but from an artistic standpoint, this just doesn’t stand out.


Download: Open Your Eyes, Fully Loaded, Rising of the Fallen
For The Fans Of: Shinedown, Green Day, Default, Sick Puppies, Halestorm
Listen: facebook.com

Release date 11.08.2014
Cyber Tracks

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