Monday, March 11, 2019

Album Review: Tesla - Shock

80's runner-ups Tesla are back with another set of well-crafted hard rock, their first in five years. They had always been unfairly lumped in with the fluff metal crowd when in reality they were always a much rootsier outfit, their sound being informed by classic 70's rock and eschewing the party rock clichés of all of their Van Halen and KISS loving contemporaries.
For a band so closely associated with the eighties scene, this record sounds oddly nineties. In fact, had it been released in 1993, it might have spawned a few hits and sold decent numbers. Unfortunately, a new Tesla album in 2019 is unlikely to appeal to anyone but their fanbase and that's a shame as it's a really strong record. It's not Sgt. Pepper or Sticky Fingers, but it's not trying to be. It's just a solid rock record with a bunch of great songs and strong performances and is a worthy addition to their catalogue.

If there's a complaint to be made, and it's a small one, is that the band's influences are a little too obvious and the album ends up being slightly derivative. Perhaps is it due to producer Phil Collen, of Def Leppard fame? In any case it's a minor flaw for an otherwise excellent record.

The first song Take Me Alive is a great opener that treads the same hard rock/gospel waters as Bon Jovi's Keep The Faith.

Taste Like tastes like a cross between Mutt Lange's most successful productions: the verse is pure Def Leppard and the chorus could have fit perfectly on Back In Black.

The first ballad of the record is the piano-driven We Can Rule The World and it's obviously influenced by Queen. The song is good, but the synths are a little bit too intrusive and the raspy voice gets a little grating on some notes. But it has a great Show Must Go On feel and a cool little guitar interlude.

The title track is a mi-tempo rocker with a heavy chug and modern-sounding drums and an explosive chorus.

Love Is A Fire is a prototypical power ballad which boasts a cool guitar solo, but is otherwise unremarkable.

The biggest surprise of the set comes with California Summer Song, which, like its title indicates, is a groovy, sunny jam with a funky guitar solo and a hand-clapping, singalong chorus that could be a genuine radio hit today.

Forever Loving You is another great song, a minor-key Beatles-inspired acoustic song which is the best ballad on the album.

The Mission is classic hard rock with a mid-tempo verse which feels a bit unfinished and a great driving chorus that'll get you fist pumping in the air.

Tied To The Tracks boasts a particularly venomous vocal and wicked slide guitars.

Afterlife stars with a harmonised guitar riff that's very reminiscent of the one that opens Blue Oÿster Cült's Burnin' For You, but the resemblance stops here. It quickly turns into a mellow, middle-of-the-road song with country-tinged mandolin and a soaring chorus.

I Want Everything is Cheap Trick territory: powerful melodies on top of a bitching riff, ending in climactinc guitar pyrotechnics.

The last song is Comfort Zone, and it has a bass-driven, almost alternative feel to it until the epic chorus, which is pure eighties hard rock.

All of these songs are going to go down swimmingly in their live set, and one can't help but wish they'd come visit this side of the pond more often, but alas their market seems to be exclusively American these days...

Contrary to a lot of their contemporaries' new material, the new Tesla record isn't a guilty pleasure. It's a great collection songs that would have fit on a record in the seventies, eighties or nineties. There's a word for that. You could call it reactionary, old-fashioned or backward-looking. I prefer to call it timeless.

You can listen to 30-second song extracts below, or signup for Apple Music to get access to the full record!

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