Crashdiet - The Savage Playground (3Wise Records)

Time to wallow in the splendid lustre...
Release Date: 
24 Jan 2013 - 11:30pm

 

Well. It took a while – about seven or eight plays, to be honest – but Swedish hair metal revivalists Crashdiet finally have me snared with their fourth full-lengther (and first for 3Wise), The Sacage Playground.

That’s probably a good sign, for although glammy metal of this type is generally meant to grab your ears and give them a good shaking from the get-go, it’s generally the albums that take a while to end up worming their way into your affections that end up being the keepers, and that’s what may well end up happening with … Playground.

The album opens up with the restrained slam of Change the World, a nice Skid Row-style belter that sets the scene nicely for what’s to follow. Heavy when it needs to be yet possessed of enough songwriting finesse to get the job done, it’s a solid opening statement of intent.

Cocaine Cowboys, from the title down, is much more what you’d expect from a band like Crashdiet, and it doesn’t disappoint as it makes its sleazy way out of the speakers. Martin Sweet throws in a marvellously well studied guitar solo in the middle of it all, and the rest of the band play their part in making sure you’ll be whistling this tune as you go about your business for a fair while to come.

Anarchy is reminiscent of Finns Crazy Lixx (which is completely a good thing in this writer’s book) but it’s a mere hors d’ouvre for the splendid ambition of California. Put simply California is a titanic track, building slowly from a dramatic, if subdued beginning into a truly magnificent chorus that will have you jumping for joy the first time you hear it.  Bands like Crashdiet aren’t meant to come up with pieces of timeless brilliance like this, but they have and all that’s left for us as fans to do is sit and wallow in its splendid lustre. 

Vocalist Simon Cruz deserves mention here; he’s the possessor of a very versatile throat which means that Crashdiet can pretty much try their hand at anything within reason safe in the knowledge that he’ll handle whatever they ask of him, but California definitely shows of the Cruz pipes at their very best.

Lickin’ Dog isn’t quite at the level of California, but Circus gets things back on track, with Cruz adopting another vocal guise and the band getting stuck into an edgy yet fluid track, rhythm section Peter London (bass) and Eric Young (drum)’s driving partnership nicely counterpointing Sweet’s jagged riffage on the verses. There’s another big chorus for you to enjoy here, too.

Like Lickin’ Dog, Sin City can’t quite maintain the quality you’d like, but the same can’t be said of Got a Reason , which is another storming, sprawlingly ambitious piece of brilliance. Crashdiet are operating in top gear again here, with the band’s chops taking them streets ahead of the opposition in terms of execution and sheer listenability.  Drinkin’ Without You is more prosaic, but it’s still a mighty fine song, possessed of an immediate chorus (which in itself comes equipped with some nice ride work from Young, of the sort you don’t hear that often any more, mores the pity), whilst Snakes in Paradise is an absolute stadium-levelling stomper, returning to the Skid Row template but adding a darker note that is all Crashdiet. 

Excited heralds the end portion of the album, and guess what? – I am. As I said, on first listen I was sorely disappointed with The Savage Playground, but I’m excited to report that it is, in fact, a magnificent album that any fan of old school heavy rock n’roll MUST have in their collection. Fantastic.