Style: Hard Rock
Release Date: 12 Jun 2020
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I love exploring subgenres old and new to see where bands are taking sounds in new directions. Sometimes, though, I just like to sit back so that a back to basics, no frills, good old fashioned rock 'n' roll band can kick my ass and Shakedown Suzies definitely fit in that category. There's nothing new in their sound at all, outside the cool carnival music that bookends Delicious Vice, but they do what they do very well indeed and, what's more, they do it with an infectious energy that's hard to resist.
They play hard rock with a emphatic glam edge, that approach led by the lead singer who goes by Ricki Rascal, but it knocks on the door of metal rather a lot. Jonathan Mortensen's guitar is metal through and through, so much that I should probably call it an axe. It slices through the air far more deeply than a regular hard rock guitar would. There's also metal in the energy and the pace and the sheer wall of sound.
Much of this reminds of Dr. Feelgood era Mötley Crüe, Mads Mattsson's drums pounding away like thunderbolts as the rest of the band parade a solid array of riffs and hooks past us. Best of Me is probably the closest to that sound but it's riddled throughout the album. However, when the band kick into high gear, they end up in Motörhead territory. Check out the beginning of Savage Hearts or the end of Alibi, let alone the whole of Hair of the Dog.
All this makes for an energetic sound that's both more raw and more vicious than the pure energy of, say, Airbourne. If I had been played this blind, I would have conjured up a telling line-up in my imagination. The vocals feel like a fifty fifty mix of Michael Monroe and Sebastian Bach. The guitars are an alternating combo of 'Fast' Eddie Clarke and Dave Murray. The back end is the gritty, ever-reliable pairing of Duff McKagan and Tommy Lee. And that's a supergroup in my mind.
Most importantly, the Suzies don't let up. This isn't the longest album I've ever heard, its eleven songs running just over forty minutes, but they don't let up at any point. Even a brief intro suggests that we might be in for the inevitable power ballad, like Rascal Remedy, the band quickly kick it up and find a tougher vibe, in this case ending up as an interesting cross between Thin Lizzy and Asomvel. The closest to a ballad that the band get has to be the closer, I Don't Do Regrets, and that's still no ballad. It merely avoids high gear and lets Mortensen and bassist Agust Ahlberg strut their stuff in Guns n' Roses style.
While the mix gets the instrument levels right, this material demands to be played loud but, when I turn it way up, it distorts a little at the top end and that's not good when each new song just wants me to turn it up further. That distortion is the worst thing about this album, which speaks volumes on the band's consistency.
I should emphasise that I'm a fan of how raw and energetic this sounds and, like all the best rock 'n' roll, it stamps a reminder onto the inside of our eyeballs that we have to see this band live. I haven't because they're from Jönköping in Sweden, so I don't know how they are on stage, but they leave the impression that they'll dominate so much that a good chunk of the guys who never ever leave the bar will find their legs and move up front to join everyone else.
It's also worth mentioning that glam metal often sounds great the first time through, as the hooks catch us, but gets old after we've heard them far too often. I've had this album on repeat for a few days and I haven't tired of a single song yet. In fact, the album just more and more consistent. My choice of a favourite has changed so often that I'm not even going to give you one to go on. Just buy the album. I promise you won't do regrets.