REVIEW: A NEW REVENGE – “Enemies & Lovers”
When the term “supergroup” pops up, a lot of people can jizz in their pants and cry of happiness, but my brain always turns a huge “DANGER” sign. What we have here is exactly that, featuring heavy hitters of the rock scene such as Keri Kelli (guitars, Alice Cooper), Rudy Sarzo (bass, Whitesnake, Ozzy, Quiet Riot) James Kottak (drums, Scorpions) and, of course, the party animal Tim “Ripper” Owens, who features in more bands than I probably heard of music in my life. A New Revenge is their name and ‘Enemies & Lovers’ their game, which comes out on March, 29th.Well then, with such a consolidated lineup in the hard rock department (plus Ripper, who sings in pretty much everything from samba to black metal), we’re in for a marvelous album full of catchy tunes, sexy riffs and full-on energy, right? WRONG.
From the cheesiest of cheesy names for a band (and album) ever, the immaturity of the cover art and passing through the whole experience, this is a thunderous, magnanimous, majestic display of mediocrity. Opener “The Distance Between” starts with a bland, colorless modern riff and slowly builds up from there. The chorus is pretty good and Ripper howls at the end of it with his characteristic power, but the entire aura of the track doesn’t live up to the member’s curriculum.
This pathological issue continues with the horrible “The Way” following the same path of uninspired playing, this time around with a heavier approach on melody. This is definitely one of the worst moments in the record and you can tell it by just paying attention to the chorus lyrics: “I like the way you make me beg”. Really dudes, really?!
Even better efforts like “Glorious” are watered down by safe playing and radio-friendly bullshit. Bon Jovi’s pop era meets Alice Cooper’s dubious rock approach in this Frankenstein of a song, saved only by the kind of cool chorus and the competent solo.
Similarly to this one are tracks like “The Eyes” and “Here’s To Us”, which are good songs, but the need to take it down a few notches and provide soft, pop-ish twists to an otherwise decent hard rock atmosphere hurts the overall product considerably. Closer “Scars”, however, is actually pretty decent and ends the album a lot better than it started.
“Never Let You Go”, “Fallen” and the title track are also part of the less-exciting moments here, but despite not having any sort of climaxes or memorable parts, they also don’t irritate with that awful “this is rock n roll, whohoooooo” vibe, thank the gods.
The upside to all of this is that I definitely can’t complain of the instrumental execution. Aside from Kottak who only plays it safe throughout the whole album, Kelli, Ripper and especially Sarzo do a great job in terms of individual performances and manage to do some magic amidst this massive ball of mediocrity named “songwriting and lyrics”. I wouldn’t expect any less, though, as these are well-seasoned musicians with plenty of craftsmanship.
Curiously enough, it is exactly the “supergroup” status and veteran skills of all members that make ‘Enemies & Lovers’ such a mediocre effort. Had this been released by some young nobodies, I would write it off as talented pop-ish hard rock worship lacking in songwriting skills. I obviously can’t do that here, but the essential point that this is just too amateurish for the likes of Rudy Sarzo (the man played with Dio and Tony MacAlpine, for god’s sake) remains.
I hope that A New Revenge is just some passing trend by a bunch of old men trying to make something less meaningful and more laid back with their careers, because if this is something that Ripper, Kelli, Kottak and Sarzo are genuinely looking for in their future, they better just call it quits altogether.