Greetings, Glancers! I’m going to try to be a little more consistent with these things. What tends to happen is that, I get bored focusing on one thing for too long and burn out, but just looking at how regularly I post under a specific topic is a little embarrassing. If anyone tunes in and only wants to read my posts on the Iron Maiden members’ non-IM work, or my Madonna or Bon Jovi posts, or whatever, there’s maybe one post on each every few months. That’s a bit crappy. I’m still writing them in the background, but I’m simply not posting them. So yeah, more consistency.
This time around it’s another Adrian Smith vehicle I’m unfamiliar with. From memory, I enjoyed some parts of Smith’s previous band ASAP, but felt their album ran out of steam quickly. I can only assume that his mid-nineties outfit, prior to re-joining Maiden, were more successful given they had two albums. State Of Mind was released in 1995 – near enough Grunge Peak – and hair metal, 80s style metal was all but dead. Maiden themselves weren’t having the best of times, and it was Europe which took the mantle, taking power and symphonic metal in the next logical direction. I’ve no idea what this will sound like. I assume there will be guitars, but whether it’s Maiden-esque, whether it’s hard rock, whether it’s grunge, whether it’s whatever – I don’t know. The name Psycho Motel does feel familiar to me – maybe they appeared in Beavis And Butthead or maybe the were featured in Kerrang at the time. Lets do this.
Sins Of Your Father: I get an instant Alice In Chains vibe from that opening riff, that sludgy guitar tone. It gets more slow, more dirty with the verse and follow-up riff. That’s not Smith on the vocals anyway. The vocals feel like the sleazier side of 80s metal, while the groove and tone feel Seattle inspired. It’s likely the upload quality I’m listening, but the drums feel distant, not as impactful as they should be. This is a slow, sludgy opener, nothing extraordinary, but hard and heavy, and something to knock back a beer to.
World’s On Fire: The tuning seems quite low on these songs so far – again hitting those lower register metal tones. I can’t say I enjoy the shouts of ‘fight’ in the verse – very cheesy a la 80s cheese. The guitars almost feel too distorted – could be the crappy upload though. So far, there’s nothing akin to Maiden at all, so good to see Smith again branching out further. The solo work hasn’t been amazing on these two tracks – more like any number of rock bands from the era. Not the most exciting song, and not as engaging as the opener.
Psycho Motel: Has a thankfully different intro, coming in with acoustic (?) guitars and some near Eastern arsing about before the fat riff drops. It’s another very groovy riff, more of the dirty tone – this one feels more like a single. There’s a greater melodic quality and it feels more coherent. It’s a foot tapper. Reminds me of a heavier, slower Slash’s Snakepit. This is the best song so far, but nothing special.
Western Shore: Starts with an acoustic shuffle, something like Soul Asylum or Mr Big or any of the 80s bands when they decided to have a ballad moment. The vocals work well along with the guitar, if a little Richard Marx-like. In the second verse they drop a string section when I was expecting a drum blast. The drum blast comes for the second chorus. Then there’s a sudden transition into a strange funk jazz rock fusion – an excuse for a bit of volume and twiddling. I’m not sure it fits, but it’s not bad.
Rage: A big crunchy intro leads to a screechy verse where the riffs pause for the vocals and vice versa. There’s some swirly vocal effects in the bridge, and the chorus is a bit of a nothing. It’s all quite bouncy so old school headbangers will get some mileage from the beat and volume, but for someone like me looking to make more of an emotional connection or hoping for something more inventive, there isn’t much to get behind. It’s a short one.
Killing Time: A squealing intro makes way for a great driving riff, which in turn drops away for a much more middle of the road, average rock verse. It’s all quite muddled and none of it makes much of an impact. What I assume is the chorus drops before the second minute mark, and it’s better. Not better enough to save the whole song, but still an improvement. Then there’s some solo stuff and the band fannying about. I’m not sure what this is meant to be, it feels like three separate jams or a batch of unused ideas squeezed into a single song.
Time Is A Hunter: Drums. Chords. The song name gives me Zeppelin vibes. The lyrics definitely give that early bluesy Zeppelin feel. The comparison doesn’t go much further. The melodies aren’t exciting, the music is just sort of ‘there’ and yet in the background. There’s a neater middle section which again offers some slight improvement. It returns to the blues and keeps going for another few minutes.
Money To Burn: A decent twangy riff gets a metal overhaul and segues into a decent verse and then a decent chorus. This one is more catchy than most of the other songs, decent all round. Again, hardly a song to light up anyone’s life, but fun nonetheless.
City Of Light: Does this sound like Peace Sells? There’s something familiar and Mustainey about the song. A siren guitar and some clanging single notes at least offer a taste of atmosphere. The songs feels like it’s building to something, rather than a collection of random unfocused notes and riffs. The bridge into chorus together is a little strange, but does offer a different type of melody. There’s some start/stop going on to which helps the rhythm along.
Excuse Me: Jeepers, this is full on grunge – on the softer side. That verse feels part Bush, part Soundgarden. Man, the vocals and the guitar and the melody is straight out of Seattle. Is this a cover? I don’t think it’s amazing, but it’s different enough from the rest of the album to make it feel unique, and it does have a much greater melodic quality and it feels like a single. There’s that added coherence to the structure. Maybe a minute longer than it should be.
Last Goodbye: These last two tracks seem to be re-release or extra tracks, but I’ll cover them anyway. Assuming this isn’t a Jeff Buckley cover. It opens with some ominous guitar and effects and soundbites before the jump-scare guitar drops with a stomping pace. Aside from the chorus, it’s more of the same really – heavy, but doesn’t leave me with anything interesting to say. It’s just loud, middling rock music which doesn’t demand my attention.
Can’t Wait: This one feels more chaotic, moderately faster, with a touch of funk. The bass is doing some funky bits and it is more melodic in places. But definitely chaotic – a lot of noise, and not a lot of it making much impact.
Not the most exciting album in the world then, even by mid-nineties hard rock standards. The majority of the album just felt like bang average rock songs – not a lot of edge, not a lot of emotion, melody, or originality, but for people who like to have any heavy music to stick on in the background to get them though the day, they shouldn’t have many complaints. I’m including myself in that group. Each song had something I liked, but those best bits never lasted or elevated the song as a whole. The band must have had fun and must have had a measure of success if they returned for another album. I won’t say I’m looking forward to hearing that one, but I’m marginally curious to see if they change their sound or if it’s simply more of the same.
Let us know in the comments what you think of State Of Mind!
Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Psycho Hotel. Money To Burn. Western Shore. Excuse Me.