Wondering if I was about to open up a Pandora’s box of personal demons, I have to admit that I approached this review rather gingerly. Would I relate to it? Would it shock me? Would it excite me more than a sip of communion wine and a wafer? Of course, I knew, more than not, that there is no sense of humor in Buckcherry’s music. The LA rockers’ distinctive American sound, merged with Aerosmith style qualities, is always dirty, mean, sleazy and bitter and usually crammed full of self-loathing. I have discovered that “Confessions”, their sixth album to date, is all of this and more.
Based loosely on the Seven Deadly Sins, Josh Todd (vocals), Keith Nelson (guitar), Stevie D. (guitar), Jimmy Ashhurst (bass) and Xavier Muriel (drums), have given us a dose of the devil’s daily temptations. Josh Todd’s lyrics are intensely personal and take us on his life journey battling/enjoying excess. They are gritty, honest and conflicting. Preparing for his confession, is totally compelling.
It’s true that I needed to get my ears around the entire thing at least three times before I found the album “growing” on me. For example, by the time I had reached the end of the album for the first time, I was worried that such powerful subject matter didn’t seem to have been complimented musically or lyrically and fell into dangerously “samey” territory. I wondered if “Confessions” was more confined (limited); conformed (restrictive) and confounded (perplexed by its many conflicting situations). However, I have since decided that there are some outstanding tracks here that could well propel the popularity of this LP into the similar ranks of the acclaimed “15” and “Black Butterfly” albums.
In true Buckcherry tradition, the opening track “Gluttony” is a brilliant song with its expectant opening riffs, fast choruses and lead guitar solos. It is a blatant admission of eating, drinking, smoking and fornicating to excess, so much that “I wanna die and kill my dirty mind” would not be a detox solution too far!
From there on it is a biblical journey of both fighting and inviting temptation; of battling the weaknesses of human nature and at times endeavouring to cleanse the soul. Take “Wrath” (and watch out, because this one is coming for you), with lyrics like “Hey man, do you wanna get a fist so hard, do you wanna see who’s in charge?” , it is full of pent up aggression that you can only pity when you hear the repetitive background plea “please pray for me father!”
Although “Nothing Left But Tears” is a song about tortured relationships it has a toe tapping; head nodding tune that pulses along with a big sing-a-long chorus. “The Truth” is a lamenting little ditty bordering the classic Buckcherry ballad, that will have you getting your lighter out for a good old sway.
“Greed” is a solid track, perhaps not the most memorable for me, but it romps along with heavy riffs and choruses that plan to trample you in order to get what is wanted, with little regard for the consequences. “Water” on the other hand, bursts with new life and is positively uplifting in comparison.
If there ever was a time when I felt that a sip of communion wine and a wafer was more exciting, then this would be during “Seven Ways to Die”. It’s startling intro breaks the song title up with distinctive riffs and seems promising at first, but although the pace is quick it is also too repetitive throughout for my liking. After this “Air” is what I need. It is a song that slithers into some kick ass introductory riffage and I love the different levels within this track, especially the intermittent descending arpeggios within the verses.
Then again, prepare to suffer, this time with a sadness that will rip your heart out in the form of “Sloth”, another true to form Buckcherry ballad. This time though, it’s more meaty and the great guitar solos soar through tragedy and loss. From this, “Pride” transcends neatly across with a totally different structure to the last and I love the jiggy riffage, the talking verses and the memorable chorus.
Then we have “Envy” and “Lust” and although they are not the most memorable tracks amongst the other sins, they at least connect the sequence of despicably ugly human traits, if somewhat repetitively.
Finally, we have the calm after the storm; the haze of realisation and the light at the end of the tunnel. “Dreamin’ of You” is a gentle number that rolls along in dreamy Simon & Garfunkel style. Beautifully captured by Keith Nelson’s Gretsch, it is a time of reflection; to believe in yourself and to stand up tall, because all the bad things don’t last long – sure advice from one who has been there; seen it; done it.
In time, it will be good to see how these songs translate into the sister project that will accompany this album in the form of a short film written by Josh Todd. For now, however, let this grow on you and just hope that you don’t see too much of yourself in there!