The one inherent danger of hard rock / heavy metal's comeback as we approach the new millenium is that bands, old and new, will make the same mistakes that caused the genre to stagnate starting in the '80s. There are some groups I remember (and will have the courtesy not to name) whose big guitar sound comprised of a bleating whine in between verses, something that quickly grew annoying.
Shaken, Not Stirred from Danish hard rockers Push reminds me of a poor man's White Lion, only without as many catchy hooks. This four-piece isn't terrible, but they don't do anything that stands out as being special. And - you guessed it - they use that damned "whine" of a guitar lick far too often. If you've ever heard it, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.
The band - vocalist/guitarist Martie Peters, bassist Kasper Sogreen, guitarist Martin Slott and drummer Morten Plenge - seem to have their hearts in the right place; I happened to like the way they often built their songs up from acoustic guitar to a full band. But the problem with the band is that they, for the most part, are still living in the late '80s musically. I didn't hear much new ground being broken, just old ideas and sounds being re-hashed for 1999.
If you, like me, listened to a lot of hard rock in the '80s, one listen to Shaken, Not Stirred and you'll find yourself saying, "I've heard this before." Tracks like "Never Again," "Almost Pornographic" (relax, Tipper Gore, it's a mild song) and the title track all sound like old ideas being dusted off and pumped through brand new Marshall stacks. It's okay to listen to, but not something I'd want to make a regular part of my musical diet.
All of that said, there are a few times that Push gets it right. Tracks like "The Only One," "Casanova" and "Those Were The Days" all stand out as being exceptional, proving that even an old sound can learn new tricks. Still, it's kind of disappointing that the best moments on the album are hidden at the end.
Shaken, Not Stirred is an album that will probably not set the world on fire, but it should provide at least a smile and memories of days past for the older rockers who remember metal's glory days. Push have the retro sound down, but if they're going to become anything special, they really need to work on developing their own sound and style.
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