Round & Round (& Round Again)
When the flannel soldiers of Seattle stormed mainstream music in the early 90s, glam metal bands and their fans were sent scurrying back underground as popular culture shifted its attention away from big hair and bigger ballads.
A few bands were able to persevere by distancing themselves from the scene that made them famous (Bon Jovi and Def Leppard). Others simply disintegrated until the time was right to trade in old grudges for tremendous pay checks (Motley Crue and Guns-n-Roses). But what about the other bands that rode the metal wave of the 1980s? Are any of them still teas’n and pleas’n? Hell. Yes. Check out these great new albums!
L.A Guns – The Missing Peace (2017)
Featuring the reunited Phil Lewis (vocals) and Tracii Guns (guitar), L.A. Guns sound a lot like they did in 1989 which is good news. Arriving a little late on the scene, their 1989 Cocked And Loaded was one of the last great metal albums of the decade but they are remembered more for being one of the bands that spawned the band name for Guns-n-Roses. Back on the scene, Lewis and Guns are still a formidable pair of sleaze merchants.
Tokyo Motor Fist – Tokyo Motor Fist (2017)
Featuring former members of Danger Danger and Trixter, Tokyo Motor Fist are leading the way in 2017. With all due respect to Dave Grohl, this self-titled debut is one of the best rock-n-roll albums of the year. Their video for “Picking Up the Pieces” has the look of a public access television appearance which only makes it that much cooler. Skip the bitter pill that was the new Bon Jovi record and raise a Tokyo Motor Fist in the name of rock-n-roll!
Warrant – Louder Harder Faster (2017)
If any hair metal band got a raw deal, it was Warrant. Cursed by the silly “Cherry Pie”, the band has never received their due. “Down Boys” and “Sometimes She Cries” holds up with the best songs from Poison and Bon Jovi. With Lynch Mob’s Rob Mason taking over after the unfortunate death of Jani Lane, the band has developed a tougher edge that is, as the album declares: louder, harder, faster.
Great White – Full Circle (2017)
Like Ratt, and Queensryche, singer and band aren’t exactly on the same page these days. After parting ways with singer Jack Russell, Great White added Terry Ilous on the mic while Russell formed Jack Russell’s Great White who also dropped a new album in 2017. Full Circle wins the battle of the sharks and captures the band’s bluesy based glam sound while Russell’s album belongs in a chum bucket and dropped at sea.
Tesla – Simplicity (2015)
Tesla never looked the part during the glam metal renaissance. A little too denim for the 80s, their albums have held up better than most because of a blues-rock foundation that ages like a fine wine. Their most recent effort doesn’t mess with anything under the hood and sounds exactly like Tesla should sound in 2017.
Europe – Walk The Earth (2017)
Released last week, Europe maintained a consistent career long after I stopped dancing to “Carrie” at high school dances. Some of the best musicians of the era, the band’s sound verges on prog at times without losing its metal edge. The new album is probably some sort of concept album and, just like in the 80s when everyone else raved about Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime, I couldn’t care less. I never bought a glam metal album hoping for a thematic arc that went beyond loud and fun. Dear Europe, just keeping rocking the night.
Trixter – Human Era (2015)
Wicked smart pop-craftsmen,Trixter exploded post-Appetite For Destruction so they were dismissed a little too quickly. “Don’t Treat Me So Bad” sounded like a Madonna song after we listened to “Welcome To the Jungle”. Luckily, Trixter are still kicking and this gem of their 2015 album is a modern day “Nothin’ But A Good Time”!
Roth Brock Project – Roth Brock Project (2017)
Bringing together guitarist John Roth (Winger) and singer Terry Brock (Giant), the creatively named Roth Brock Project is straight-ahead rock goodness. Fans of Sammy Hagar era Van Halen, this is the album for you.
Kix – Rock Your Face Off (2014)
The oldest album on this list, Rock Your Face Off cannot be overlooked. As this list proves, a lot of the 80s metal bands that are closest to “one-hit wonders” have aged better than the rest of the scene. Maybe it has something to do with needing to keep proving yourself in small clubs and earning the gas money to the next gig. Kix are putting still putting in the work. “Love Me With Your Top Down” sounds like KISS and AC/DC at the same time. That is not a bad thing.
Bulletboys – Elefante’ (2015)
Some bands manage to keep delivering their trademark sound (see: Tesla) while others evolve with the times. Bulletboys are definitely one of those bands. Elefante’ can hang with the modern rock bands like Buckcherry and Hinder which is commendable. As good as it sounds at times though, I’m still craving a little of that “Smooth Up In Ya” sleaze from back in the day.
Enuff Z’Nuff – Clowns Lounge (2016)
The psychedelic glam-metal band behind “My Michelle” were a little outside the norm in the 80s. If The Beatles had done hair metal, they definitely would have sounded like Enuff Z’Nuff. The band has always had a sense of humor and the new album carries on that tradition. I guess they were the glam metal band for the burnt out hippies who stumbled into the wrong decade. Nowadays, I can relate.
Dangerous Toys – Pissed (2017)
Arriving out of Texas, Dangerous Toys were one of the last of the 80s hair metal bands to make some noise commercially. They sounded a little more metal than most back then and not much has changed. They still have a clown logo and play heavy metal. Thank god for clowns and metal.