|Talisman Cats And Dogs||Frontiers Records|
I've gone back through Talisman's previous albums and to my ears this is their best release to date. There's bound to be some debate over that, as the band holds a special place in the hearts of a great deal of melodic hard rock fans.|
But the band's earlier albums now sound just a little old and their last couple weren't as strong musically.
What's better then, than a fresh collection of new songs from the band's best loved line-up? Nothing! Hence why the combination of good production and the overall sound combined with another collection of very memorable songs makes this my favourite album from the band.
Over the past 12 months we have had the one-off Humanimal album and a Jeff Scott Soto solo album. All three releases have scored 95 ratings, but all three releases have been musically different and excellent in their own rights.
Humanimal was hard rock heaven, Prism was more moody ballad and AOR driven material and you will find that Cats & Dogs is classic Talisman - meaning something falling between these other two releases.
The unmistakable swagger of Marcel Jacob's bass and the harder edge vocals of Soto, plus the return of guitarist Fredrik Akesson and drummer Jamie Borger make this album as strong musically as it could be - it was only ever going to be the strength of the songs that dictated it's success.
Thankfully the guys have hit a home run there also, as this set of songs impresses me more as a whole than the tracks of Prism and Humanimal - mainly for the seamless way the album seems to flow. None of the songs sound the same, each has it's own strong melodies, yet blink and you are at track 12 already. It's all very well put together.
Track By Track:
The distinct scream of Jeff Scott Soto opens the album, Skin On Skin is typical Talisman - a little funky, guitar driven number with a definite swagger and a chorus that features the required smooth background harmonies to emphasize the song's hooks.
The band have always had a unique approach/style and this album is no different.
Break It Down is a little heavier and a little more urgent. The chorus is very recognizable, but it's the song as a whole that really works. It also features some tasty guitar soloing and bass riffing in an extended instrumental break mid-song - the kind of musical arrangements that make the band so interesting.
In Make Believe starts off slow, with a very nice Soto vocal and heads right into a classic Talisman groove. The chorus features more layers of vocal harmonies and is mid-tempo in pace.
Love Will Come Again is a moody mid-tempo track reminiscent of more recent albums, with a heavier chorus and a style that could have been featured of Jeff's Prism album.
Outta My Way cranks things way up. This track is a big uptempo hard rocker with a definite overdose of guitar and bass shredding. Very cool.
Friends To Stranger continues the harder edge, a little more restrained this time, playing out in a very dark and moody way.
It's time for a sentimental tune and Sorry is just that. This is a first rate rock ballad actually. It's still guitar driven and shows no sign of wimpiness, but has a killer chorus and a big sing-along feel.
Trapped signals time to rock again. This is a heavy groover of a track, with a dark moody verse and a more uptempo, rather catchy chorus. More classic Talisman.
M.O.M. continues straight on from the last track. More of the same with another chorus of it's own character.
Wherever, Whenever, Whatever starts dark and slow, and gently builds into another strong mid-tempo rock track with a strong chorus.
Lost In Wasteland's guitar intro sounds like classic Van Halen mixed with a lighter version of Metallica. The song is a little different in texture than the other tracks, but the variation is cool and the chorus is again short, but strong.
Hell In Paradise closes out the album with another dark and moody rocker, featuring another particularly strong guitar riff and a great lead vocal from Soto.
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