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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

TNT

All The Way To The Sun

Review by Gary Hill

There was a time when I wouldn't have touched a CD by TNT. Too many memories of '80's hair metal bands dominating MTV soured that for me. Well, enough time has passed for the pain to go away. The interesting thing is, either these guys have gotten really good, or my tastes have mellowed. While there are some weaker cuts here, and a lot of it suffers from being too mainstream and clichéd, there is a lot of meaty music for the listener to enjoy. Without question the stars of the show here are Tony Harnell (vocals) and Ronnie le Tekro on guitar. These two manage to shine on ever song, even the ones that are a little weak. OK, so Harnell doesn't even appear on the guitar solo, but ignore that! I'd have to say that there are a couple songs I will probably wind up skipping over each time I listen, but to be fair, there are a couple that will have me hitting the "repeat" button. Does this mean I have to start checking out all those '80's bands now to see which ones were actually good?

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
A Fix
Wasting no time to crank it up, this one slams in fast and fairly furious. It's a very tasty riff based rocker that still has a lot of that '80's feel, but is quite meaty. There is nothing out of place here. The vocal performance and guitar solo are both impeccable. If anything this is just a little too clean and formulaic, but certainly not enough to detract from the listening pleasure.
Too Late
Now, this one doesn't work quite as well as the opener. It's a little too mainstream '80's metal in its texture. This could have been a Ratt song from way back when. I mean, in the days of MTV's hair metal dominance this one would have been in heavy rotation. It's not bad, we've just heard it all many times before. Still, the guitar solo, generic as it is, is quite tasty.
Driving
If "Too Late" was a step in the wrong direction, this one is a total 180 from what I'd like to hear. This thing is a forgettable pop-metal jam. Again, there's nothing offensive about it, but maybe that's really the problem. It would be nice to hear them take a few chances here.
Me and I
As a nice change of pace this one starts with an almost neo-classical proggy keyboard interlude. The band pump in with a gritty, more modern rocking sound. I don't know if I'd call this metal, but it's cool. This is one of my favorites on the disc. Even the slightly clichéd anthemic chorus works really well. It seems after stumbling a bit the band have pulled it back together. The guitar solo on this one is a killer.
Sometimes
Drums start this one, then a guitar riff that just screams "hair metal" fires across it. They drop it down to a Damn Yankees kind of guitar driven ballad approach. There are some interesting layers that move across this, though, pulling it up from total mediocrity. The chorus, though, is extremely generic. The neo-classical guitar solo is another tasty step away from trite. There really is quite a bit of Tommy Shaw vibe on this one, though.
All The Way To The Sun
The title cut starts with an almost prog rock keyboard/vocal based introduction in a very textural motif. This makes it all the bigger shock when the band launch into one of the most meaty, heavy riffs of the whole disc. This thing really rocks out! The chorus is more mainstream, but the vocal arrangement makes it something a bit more cool than it would be without the processed overlayers. This is one of my favorites on show here. It's nicely gritty and oh so tasty. The guitar solo/instrumental segment with its prog metal style alone is worth the price of admission on this one.

What A Wonderful World
Wow, it's got to take guts to cover this Louis Armstrong number. The thing is, they play it at first pretty straight and true to form. This calls to mind some of the odd covers that Van Halen used to do. I'm still not sure about this one, but you have to give them some serious credit for even attempting it, and the vocals certainly soar as it turns almost Queen-like later. There is even some Brian May-like guitar soloing during the more hard rocking segments. It's one that will definitely grow on you. Besides, I did say that I'd like to see them take more chances.

Letter
Appropriately, the sound of someone opening an envelope leads this one off. Then the band launch into another very tasty riff based excursion. If you check out the lyrics they are just a little twisted. "I got a letter from you today / and though it said you were sorry / I still try to think of ways to hurt you." That pretty much sets the tone for the whole song. This one has an incredibly cool, and rather unusual arrangement. They come close to prog metal on this one again. As always the vocal and guitar performances are extremely potent. The neo-classical shred fest on this one might be the best on the whole CD - but there are so many good ones it's hard to say. This one is without question my favorite cut on the disc.
Mastic Pines
This acoustic guitar solo has lots of classical music in its structure, but I also hear just a few hints of Fly By Night era Rush and maybe even a little Steve Howe - and all in a minute and a half
Black Butterfly
The hardest rocker on the disc, this one reminds me just a bit of "Keep Yourself Alive" by Queen - at least on the main riff. This one is another scorcher and another highlight of the disc. It has some interesting changes and the vocal arrangement at points also reminds me of Queen. Once again, the guitar solo purely screams out.
Save Your Love
This one comes in with a bit more generic texture, but still is tasty. The vocals, though, are what really save this one. Tony Harnell puts in a gritty soulful performance here. I have to say, too, that the descending riff on the chorus is quite meaty. This one is a good old rock and roll more than metal, but it is tasty. They also put in a cool little bit where they drop it back to a bluesy mellower segment.
Ready To Fly
As this one comes in it's as a metal ballad that reminds me a bit of something by Glenn Hughes. It has a great gritty, bluesy texture, but still some classic rock anthemic textures. They turn it into a more generic, but still solid "hair metal" performance. Somehow the guitar line on the verse reminds me a bit of "Changes" by Rabin era Yes. This one is actually quite a good song, I just don't think it's the strongest closer they could have chosen.
 
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