With a deliciously evocative name, Hotel Diablo still had a little work ahead to inspire as much enthusiasm with their music as their style in hard rock is not a flavour which generally lights too many fierce fires of anticipation within our personal preferences. The Californian quartet though had little problem in leaving a satisfied and enthused listener in the wake of their debut album The Return To Psycho, California, a fine release of melodic and muscular rock n roll. As said the band has a sound rooted in hard and melodic rock but there is a strong and impressive metal pulse which results in a meaty and formidable release, even the slower more reserved songs having a steel to capture as much imagination as the well crafted melodic breath. The album admittedly does not wear away existing boundaries to set new parameters or sounds for rock but it certainly brings a fresh and feisty appealing presence to the genre which is impossible not to reap plenty of pleasure from.
The band formed in 2011 when vocalist Rick Stitch and guitarist Alex Grossi returned home from a world tour with Adler’s Appetite, the band of original Guns N’ Roses drummer Steven Adler. Departing the band the pair set about looking for a fresh project to get their teeth into and when they played a one off show with bassist Mike Duda and drummer Mike Dupke (the rhythm section of W.A.S.P.) the unmistakable chemistry and excitement generated led the four to writing songs and the formation of Hotel Diablo. Entering the studio with Gilby Clarke (Guns N’ Roses, Rockstar Supernova) as producer, the band unleashed a collection of dark true stories experienced by the artists, twisting them into compulsive and captivating songs which make up the album. With further production by underground LA producer Matt Starr, The Return To Psycho, California taps into the Hollywood shadows with incisive skill and magnetic energy making for an album to thrill and get the blood pumping faster whilst treating the ear to enterprising rock n roll.
Released via Scarlet Records, the album rampages with mischief from the off with opener Taken. The song grinds at the ear with tight riffs within seconds with hard rapping rhythms forcing the issue further. The growl of the track is constant; continually gnawing away at the senses whilst the great melodic tones of Stitch coaxes deeper attention and the guitar play of Grossi leaves sizzling spires of sonics through the air. The persistent groove of the song is addictive and offers a good bite to the smoother flowing harmonies and energy. It is a catchy yet riotous start which sets the rest of the album up perfectly.
The following All These Years and What You Do To Me are less forceful but still retain an intimidating snarl through the excellent bass of Duda. They are easy on the ear melodic weaves which only impress with the again sharp and slightly acidic melodic play of the guitar and impossible not to admire vocals. Though neither triggers deep passions as the first they only leave one relishing hearing more.
The heart of the album begins with Psycho California, a tasty brew of wicked intent, chopping riffs, and anthemic energies and vocals. From this point things on the album explode with even greater quality and triumph. Twisting one around its teasing grooved finger the song is an infectious surge of acutely styled yet rampant rock music. Bury You goes even better, its slow intense first breath expanding into a stunning wave of passion and shadowed emotive caresses. With more than a whisper of Soundgarden to it, the track is easily the best on the album and one of the best songs heard this year anywhere. The melodies sizzle on the senses whilst the rhythms insistently jab to add extra energy to the drive of the song. The lead song on the release, it alone will ensure mass attention the way of the album and band.
Songs like the stirring Set It Off and the impassioned Wicked Lines continue the great imagination and sounds leaving one fully engrossed in the release. There is the inclusion of a cover of Wonderwall which we will swiftly skate over, not because the track is poor in any way but just because personally Oasis and that song are like aural lime upon the senses, and no band could make it sound passable for these ears.
Ending with enjoyable alternative versions of What You Do To Me and Bury You, the album is a thoroughly satisfying release to spend plenty of rewarding time with, and Hotel Diablo a band one wants to hear so much more form.
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