Album Reviews

21 Octayne – Into The Open Review

21_Octayne_-_Into_The_Open

Released by: AFM Records

Release Date: Out Now!!!

Genre: Heavy Metal

Links: http://www.21octayne.com

 

Line Up:

Hagen Grohe – Vocals
Marco Wriedt – Guitars
Alex Landenburg – Drums
Andrew “The Bullet” Lauer – Bass

 

Tracklist:

1. She’s Killing Me
2. Dear Friend
3. Turn the World
4. Don’t Turn Away
5. My Teddy Bear
6. Into the Open
7. Me Myself and I
8. The Heart (Save Me)
9. Your Life
10. I Will Always Be Right There
11. Leave My Head
12. Come Alive

 

21 Octayne is an interesting proposition on paper. Featuring what could be best described as an all-star ‘supporting cast’ line-up who’s collective CV includes stints with the Joe Perry Project, Paul Gilbert, Axxis and Rhapsody, they’re not so much a super-group as a ‘worked-with-the-super-in-a-group’. Into The Open then, is their debut album, and a fine one it is too. In a nutshell, it is hard-driving, straight ahead hard rock with a metal edge. It’s as if Steve Vai has teamed up with the Winery Dogs at an audition for Audioslave.

The album opens with She’s Killing Me, and 21 Octayne immediately set out their stall. It’s no nonsense technical hard rock, with the extraordinary synchronicity of the three instrumentalists immediately bringing to mind the afore-mentioned Winery Dogs. Dear Friend is up next, which lulls the listener into a false sense of serenity, with its tenderly picked nylon string guitar intro, only to be pummelled with a riff as dirty as an overworked mechanic just when they’re getting comfortable. There’s light and shade here, a hallmark that’s apparent throughout the album. The groove driven Turn The Word is an obvious single, while Don’t Turn Away, which begins as a funky number in which the rhythm section, bassist Andrew ‘The Bullet’ Lauer and drummer Alex Landenburg get their chance to shine, quickly reveals itself as a hard rock tour-de-force with staccato riffs that really highlight just what superb musicians each of the players are. Another heavy down-tuned riff arrives with the improbably named ‘My Teddy Bear’, a song that veers effortlessly from metal to funk to melodic rock.

Of course it’s not just about the musicianship, and thankfully there are memorable ‘big’ choruses a plenty, as evidenced by the anthemic Into The Open Air. It’s a song that conjures up an image of singer Hagen Grohestanding atop a mountain, arms outstretched, like a fabled golden god singing for his life with the wind in his hair. Me, Myself and I too is heavy on melody, and is perhaps the strongest track on the album. Vocal harmonies blend effortlessly with a tight groove that gives way to yet another out-of-the-blue but perfectly complimentary heavy-assed riff. Debut single The Heart (Save Me) follows. What’s surprising though, is that it’s among the weaker tracks on the album. It isn’t the low point though. That honour falls to I Will Always Be Right There, which is the obligatory acoustic ballad. In fairness, one track like this in amongst all the metal is perfectly acceptable for a band with so much in common with the melodic rock scene, and offers rest bite from the offense of the rest of the album. It has however, been done a thousand times before, and better. It is this album’s ‘To Be With You’, ‘Love Song’ or ‘More Than Words’. At least it’s not ‘Brandon’. Thankfully, normal service is soon resumed, with the repeated punch in the face riffing of Leave My Head. The album closes with the aptly titled Come Alive. It’s a fitting end that ties up the album nicely.

If there’s a criticism to be made it’s that at times, it’s is a little too Americanised in places. Their melodic sound would sit effortlessly alongside the 1980’s giants like Tesla and Extreme.  However the modern day production saves it from becoming a dated affair. It’s as strong a debut as you’re likely to hear all year.

 

Written by Eamon

Ratings    Eamon    7/10

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