Crash & Burn
posted on 1/2009 By:
In a more health-conscious time in my life, I once tried to be a vegan. Not a hard-line one, mind you--I'll admit that I fudged the rules. But I followed the diet pretty closely. Nonetheless, I only lasted about ten months before I learned something very fundamental about myself:
I really, really like cheese. Lots and lots of cheese.
But this may be a bit much, even for me…
For twenty-five years now, Sinner has been popping out records, and I’ve never once heard any of them. Based on main-man Mat Sinner’s other gig as the bassist in Primal Fear, I assumed they were yet another speed ‘n’ falsetto-screaming European power metal act, but it turns out, at least on Crash & Burn, that they’re more of a melodic traditional metal act, often strutting like vintage cock-rock. In reading up on them, I found that AC/DC comparisons abound when discussing this band, but I hear far more Phil Lynott than the Young brothers in here. "Connection" is likely the Thin Lizzy-est song not actually written by Thin Lizzy—so close to Lynott and company that I was convinced it was a cover at first. "Revolution" rides Lizzy-like melodies through the verses, straight into a chorus borrowed from The Cult. The title track and "Fist To Face" are driving rockers with tasty guitars beneath Mat Sinner’s gruff vocals. By way of comparison, think of Mat as a less shrill Udo Dirkschneider or a less nasal Mustaine. In the vein of the latter, "Break The Silence" evokes Megadeth’s most egregiously commercial moments, with a verse that nods explicitly toward "Symphony Of Destruction." In its most metallic moments, Crash & Burn sticks close to U.D.O.’s blueprint.
The performances are tight, although the only above-average moments are in the guitar work; the production is polished; most of the songwriting is technically sound, although many will find issue with Sinner’s wholehearted and un-ironic embracing of rock cliché. Whether or not you’ll find Crash & Burn anything but laughable or nauseating depends on your tolerance for those clichés, and I readily admit that my tolerance is higher than most. That being said, there are plenty of eye-rolling moments, even for me. Some of the lyrics are ridiculous, like this awesome bit of the chorus from "Like A Rock," which is thankfully not the Bob Seger Chevy truck theme: "I will rock your devil’s playground / what I like, what I hate, what I love / I will use you as my background / I’m your nightmare, baby / nightmare, baby." The requisite power ballad ("Until It Hurts") is worse than the worst Metallica ballad, except with a huge arena-rock chorus that would’ve been poppy and corny even on Risk.
Even with the commercial goofiness, Crash & Burn’s biggest and most blatant mistake is in the inclusion of "Little Head," a cover of defunct Atlanta-based power-poppers the Marvelous 3. M3 were a killer band, poppy and snotty and thus lumped in with the pop-punk crowd even if vocalist/guitarist (and future Avril Lavigne producer) Butch Walker was well ahead of the likes of Good Charlotte in terms of songwriting. I’m glad Mat Sinner likes the Marvelous 3 because I, too, like them. But why he chose to put a cover of "Little Head" in the middle of this record is beyond me, since it’s every bit as out of place as you’d imagine it being. The sudden divergence into radio-ready power pop doesn’t help a metal album that’s only barely coping with its own lameness as it is. And truthfully, it’s not even that good of a cover—it’s faithful to a fault—so it’s a double-whammy of unnecessary-ness.
So this record is dumber than hell, and cheesier than anything I’ve heard recently, but I’ll admit that I got a little guilty pleasure out of it. Crash & Burn is what it is, and what it is is a flawed piece of still-sometimes-enjoyable melodic metal. If that sounds like something you want in your collection, then have at it—you could do far worse. For most of you, this will fall squarely into the "avoid" pile.
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