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Extreme Ramp Up Radiant Rock For Six

I love Extreme. I even liked their trickier aprés mega-selling ‘Pornografitti’ albums, the ones many scratched their heads to, flights of fancy like ‘III Sides To Every Story’ and ‘Waiting For The Punchline’ – these are big, dramatic albums with massive songs.

But many turned away, just as we might expect. And Extreme became quiet. Ace guitarist Nuno Bettencourt made some stupendous albums with others, like ‘Ultra Payloaded’ with Perry Farrell as Satellite Party and the two Mourning Widows albums and ace vocalist Gary Cherone stepped into big shoes with Van Halen, the outcome of a rather disliked ‘III’ album, which, being a contrary gent, I love.

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They returned with a stunner. In 2008, ”Saudades De Rock’ seemed a multi-headed musically marvellous monster and I was lucky enough to be involved in the release campaign as a journalist of sorts. It was rangy and raucous, going to many areas, but except for one live album, we had nothing from Extreme.

Extreme Brings You Six

Until now, the cover is a close-up of a gorilla’s face not entirely looking happy, a little inscrutable, but not particularly friendly. This links to the music too, as this is a Rock album.

Well, of course, it is, you might say. But Extreme has always had a stupendous soupçon of Funk in their sound; this album doesn’t contain much of that.

This is sharp, rough Rock. But sleek too and with a groove. And champion choruses which are like a shot of sunlight. It takes a special band to do that.

Allow me to explain. ‘Rise’ has a riff that won’t stop jabbing you, but then there’s a call-and-response chorus with a party feel, ‘#rebel’ also boasts one of those, the kind of fun middle that a Melodic Rock band like H.E.A.T enjoy so much, but here the sass and rangy solo take it somewhere else.

Ah yes, the six-string solos. Nuno is a virtuoso and his work here widdles tightly and flows beautifully – the solos are big and bothersome but absolutely right.

The tracks aren’t as much of a journey as Extreme has shown previously, Glammy ‘The Mask’ with a somewhat Southern Rock vocal is easy to like, ‘X Out’ has bleeping and a roiling feel around a big beat and closer ‘Here’s To The Losers’ triumphantly holds them up to an arena audience.

But among those are tracks which delight and confound. Like the take-it-easy feel of ‘Beautiful Girls’, which essays a Reggae sound and is simply not for me. But ‘Other Side Of The Rainbow’ is poppy, sunny and very easy to like.

And My Favourite?

‘Thicker Than Blood’ has a tight and funky sway, sawing being what excellent Rock tracks should do, then rises ominously with a narrative moment, throws in an accessible chorus then dances around whilst backing vocals stab in. That there’s also an angular solo and rabble-rousing feel just adds to the excellence.

Extreme Success

This isn’t the album I expected. I thought this would be funkier, but I’m not bothered that it isn’t. The Rock that this delivers is first class, shiny, sleek, sharp and singalong too.

As Ultimate Classic Rock said;

‘The album is jam-packed with everything Extreme is known for – riffs, vocals, harmonies, thumping rockers, gorgeous ballads and even a couple of oddball left turns.’

And Louder reiterates;

‘It’s less funk out, more crunching, brightly produced hard rock, matched with some very cleverly arranged vocal parts, that veers between pop and metal but never sounds misplaced.’

Extreme always surprises. This is no different. Six surprises severally…

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