Wednesday 8 June 2022

Caught in Action - Devil's Tango (2022)

Country: Sweden
Style: Melodic Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 22 Apr 2022
Sites: Facebook

It's a sign of how far the rock/metal spectrum extends that I almost feel unqualified to review this album, the debut from Swedish band Caught in Action. This is melodic rock, heavy on the melodies and hooks but a little less heavy on the, well, heavy. It's definitely on the rock side of the tentative pop/rock boundary, guitar music even with two keyboard players. However, when they haul out the heavy riff on Miracle, it's a little shocking and it's no surprise when it vanishes, replaced by softer guitar and a keyboard line. Everything feels like it wants to be a single. Everything ought to have done well on American radio in the eighties, had it merely seen release four decades earlier.

The band are Swedish and, while they're new, having formed as recently as 2020, the musicians are apparently veterans of the Swedish scene for over three decades, even if I can't see a credit list to say which bands they played with. Only Portuguese lead vocalist Marcello hails from elsewhere, an observation that's almost meaningless because he sings in clear and unaccented English. He's why New York City is the opening track, because he was clearly keen to hit the Don't Stop Believin' note in the chorus and do so effortlessly. We know what he's capable of after one song.

What they do can be fairly summed up by the opening four tracks. New York City is purest melodic rock in the Journey vein. Miracle has heavier moments but still lives for its hooks. The title track is sassier and closer to hair metal without ever quite getting there. It's not just the sassy riff, but an array of spotlight moments too, Richard Jönsson given the chance to show off a bit on guitar and a few keyboard flourishes give Ronnie Svard and/or Ménito Ramos opportunity too. The band have a couple of keyboard players, though I don't know if they divvy up the songs between them or duel in the same ones. And Simple Man calms things down further, to a more laid back Bryan Adams vibe.

Beyond that, there's not much more to say. If you're into this form of pure melodic rock with all its hooks, soft riffs and keyboard melodies but sans any of the side trips that bands like FM take into soul or other genres, then you're going to like this album and probably a great deal. However, it's not likely to convert anyone who prefers either pop music to one side of it or anything from one of the heavier genres on the other. It's content to be what it is and do that very well indeed. It has no ambition to vary the formula at all. OK, It Was Always You has a neatly slow opening in the style of Whitesnake, but that's not much of a departure.

If you're interested, I'd suggest checking out the song First Time, which opens up the second half of the album. It's such quintessential melodic rock that, if someone hacked into your local classic rock radio station and slipped it into their playlist, I doubt either the DJs or the listeners would notice, until the hacker owned up a year or two down the road. They'd assume it was some deep cut from a Journey album they'd forgotten about. And, to a lesser degree, the same could be achieved with half of these songs.

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