Canadian rockers Famous Underground is the return of ex- Slik Toxik frontman Nick Walsh, a band soaked in the hard rock essences of Guns N Roses with plenty of additional and varied metallic coaxing. The vocalist was no stranger to acclaim with his outfit before it called in a day in 1995 and listening to their engaging and energy fuelled debut self-titled album, it is easy to imagine Famous Underground following suit. Consisting of thirteen inventive and accomplished slices of muscular rock ‘n’ roll, the album offers rebellion to its air and riotous enterprise to its body and though arguably it is not climbing over fences into new pastures of sound it is a constantly satisfying and incendiary encounter.
From spending ten years fronting Revolver, Walsh with long-time bassist/musical partner Laurie-Anne Green began working on songs seeded in the breath of their original band, 2011 seeing the pair starting Famous Underground and recruiting like-minded but variously inspired musicians to realise their vision, people who in their independent previous projects have garnered critical acclaim and supported the likes of Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, Kid Rock, Black Sabbath, Billy Talent, Yngwie Malmsteen, April Wine and many more. Guitarists Rick Corvese and Darren Boyd join Green, Walsh, and drummer Desche Sparboom in creating an album which seizes attention from its opening seconds, the Walsh produced and Darius Szczepaniak (The Black Crowes, Sacrifice) mixed release an honest and unafraid to challenge rock rampancy with open views on the human condition.
Opening track Wasteland instantly stands toe to toe with the listener, staring them down as attitude drenched riffs snarl and prey on the ear with contagious potency and craft. Soon into its stride with the rhythms of Sparboom jabbing and punching with cantankerous hunger, the vocals of Walsh scowl and prowl over the melodic flames and within the ensnaring web of riffs. It is an easy to climb on board riot of energy and sound which is unfussed with breaking down barriers but intent to inspire full pleasure and passion, which it does with ease. It is an impressive start soon matched by the following Overdrive, another predatory snarl of a song with the bass of Green deliciously laying down a carnivorous temptation behind the anthemic strikes of guitar and expression fuelled vocals. There is a familiarity to both songs and sound but equally they hold their own individual presence though with a persistent GNR feel there is at times a Megadeth aspect to the sturdier moments of the album.
Such the power and excitement of the first pair of tracks there is a slight slip from its initial plateau across some of the consequent songs, though Dead Weight, the easy on the ear yet finely crafted Love Stands Still, and the emotive ballad Forever And A Day leave a welcome glaze on thoughts and appetite, the third of these with an anthemic call from within its smouldering melodic embrace.
Necropolis swaggers up next to rival the first two songs as best the album has to offer, its jagged riffs and crisp beats teasing the ear with eager teeth whilst vocals and sonic blazes ignite its sinister corners with their impassioned shards of excellence. It is soon backed up by the equally stirring intensively fuelled Wheel Of Misfortune and the sleaze rock gem Mommy Is A Junkie, both tracks firing up the senses and already seeded hunger further for band and release.
After On Broken Wings, another accomplished ballad but a song which fails to leave any lasting imprint on thoughts, the album offers a strong climax to its main body with firstly the riff heavy and melody sculpted Bullet Train followed by the heavy footed and infectiously captivating Hell To Pay. They enthusiastically seal the deal on a richly pleasing and fully enjoyable release.
Ending with a couple of bonus tracks in an acoustic take on Dead Weight and alternate version of On Broken Wings, the album provides a balanced meal of prime rib rock ‘n’ roll with a rich dressing of melodic invention. Famous Underground seems sure to invite in the success its members have already felt elsewhere and maybe much more.
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