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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

CD-Review: Beautiful Beast - "Kick Down The Barricades"

As you might know there are so many retro-bands out there, who try do bring back the Hair Metal sound of the glory 80's, but none of them does it with so much passion and perfectionism like the German Hair Metal band Beautiful Beast. Bandleader Julian Angel (who is also responsible for songwriting, production and guitarplay) is one of those guys, who really live this lifestyle from that era and has the ability to transport this mood in his music. The latest record "California Suntan" was my summer album of the year in 2012. So, expectations were high on the third album, which will be released on January 24th, 2014.

The late 80's ... that was the era of Bon Jovi, White Lion, Poison, Mötley Crüe, also Alice Cooper and Aerosmith lived their second spring. You could see Hair Metal, Pop-Metal, Glam-Rock (call it what you want) everywhere - on MTV, in stores, etc. It's no wonder that many bands nowadays want to sound like those bands, but while most of them are trying to parody this style of music or add a more modern production to their sound, the guys of Beautiful Beast do nothing like that. They are stuck in the eighties, wear the fashion from this time and they use instruments, which were produced back then. So you see, they take their music and their image as Hair Metal traditionalists very serious. Luckily Julian Angel has a very good sense for great melodies and this is the big advantage to stand out from the mass of retro-bands, such as Mistress or Cream Pie.

So if you hate that 80's driven cock-rock-style you can stop reading now (although Beautiful Beast don't celebrate sexism so much). You won't be happy with this album, because "Kick Down The Barricades" has all the trademarks you can find in that genre: crunchy riffs, virtuoso guitar solos, big choirs, hooks (later more on that), a raspy voice, lots of groove and an absolutely old-fashioned production. So, productionwise it's not really up to date. It's more rough and edgy this time, so don't expect a first class production of todays standards. But the thing is: they want to sound like that. It's some kind of stylistic device to transport that 80's mood and bring it right into your living room, car or whatever. So I can't really complain about it. Julian Angel is a professional on one thing  - and that is to make an album sound like it was recorded back in 1989. This is the best compliment this guy can get.

So, I talked a lot about Hair Metal and the production now, but what about the new songs? Here I have to be honest and that means to me they don't reach the high level of songwriting Angel showed on "California Suntan". There isn't a bad song on this record. Tracks like the tasty opener "Bad Boys Never Dance", "Unsexy",  "Six In The Red" and the cool title track show so much groove and they will make you move. I can promise you that. But I always loved the big hooks and the songs, which focused more on well-developed choruses with a sprinkle AOR. You will find them here too. Just take a look at songs like the feel-good-earworm "Big Stuff", the  fantastic "Can't Stand The Fiction" (which would fit White Lion very well), the sugarsweet "High On Love" or the great power ballad "The Night Cries For You". But "California Suntan" had more of these tracks. On "Kick Down The Barricades" the band focuses more on the groove thing. You see, it's just a matter of taste at that point. In my opinion these guys are on the top of their game when they do their ultra catchy stadium anthems. And then you have a little filler here: "Shock 'Em Dead". This one sounds a bit too bulky to me.
However ...  Julian Angel still writes better stuff than his competitors and fans of Hair Metal will find everything on this record they love about this genre.

Speaking about the musicians I can just say that Julian Angel did a great job on the guitar again and also at the microphone. Ok, maybe he isn't the best singer, but his raspy voice reminds me very often at Alice Cooper and it just fits to the whole bandsound. Frank McDouglas on bass is doing also a good job as well as Ramy Ali (we know him from the Power Metal band Freedom Call already) on drums.

The bottom line is that Julian Angel and his band Beautiful Beast succeeded again in making a very enjoyable retro record - a trip back in time if you want so. As I mentioned above, to me it can't reach its predecessor, so I have to pull off one point, but every 80's fanatic will love "Kick Down The Barricades". To those of you it is highly recommended! Now we can just hope to see them live on stage someday, so get your hair ready! Very well done!



01. Bad Boys Never Dance
02. Big Stuff *
03. Can't Stand The Friction *
04. Shock 'Em Dead
05. The Night Cries For You *
06. Unsexy *
07. Kick Down The Barricades
08. Shake Me Back Home
09. High On Love *
10. Six In The Red

* best tracks

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