Rock Company 2021
Philosophical treatise on existential crisis from international think-tank who thrive on melody.
Assuredness and despair have been part of hard-rock dramas since day one but doubt could make anyone look weak, which makes this album, with an optional question mark in its title, a one-off offering in its class, even though the Dutch / US ensemble behind it are proud of issuing a follow-up to 2018’s "Different" much sooner than their usual nine-year waiting period was over. However, the dystopian world designed by Peter Cox is not as dark as the record’s cover may suggest, and there’s a remedy proposed anyway – in the infectious form of “Pills And Thrills” and a few other cuts.
Not that opener “No Perfect World” gives the listener a lot of hope, even after frantic beats give way to transparent strum, and the dissatisfied Phil Vincent’s voice starts dispensing ever-relevant truisms over Cox’s guitar assault that’s bound to break the spell on the belligerent chorus, and the piano-splashed metal of “The Alternative Way” is all about impeding doom, but the futuristic riffs and vocal harmonies of “Rock It” and “Motor Queen” are extremely arresting, embracing the entertainment aspect of what the band attempt to depict here. Still, with Sander Stappers’ bass shattering the foundations of “Lonely At The Top” to let a series of six-string solos soar to celestial realms and facilitate “Screamer” to fathom the quartet’s dynamic scope, while scintillating interplay and stereo panorama render “Somehow” triumphant, and the organ-oiled “Through To You” emerges full of stadium appeal.
More so, the platter’s titular piece – with the question mark taken out of parentheses as there are no words to go with the number – adds gritty funk to the fire, whereas “Found (A New Religion)” requires brackets to signify its own anthemic message – and, possibly, the ensemble’s finest hour.