You know how hype works, right? Well, it’s pretty much the same in any field, even hair metal, except instead of the NME it’s Metal Sludge and instead of selling two million albums in Britain alone the group sells out a string of clubs in downtown Helsinki, but it’s basically the same thing. And, give or take a couple of details, that’s essentially the story of Crashdïet: hyped to the eyeballs, they crashed and burned in true sleaze style.
In general terms, naming your band after a Guns N’ Roses song is just about one of the coolest things you can do; naming your band after an unreleased Guns N Roses
track is in fact the coolest thing you can do. Playing hair metal, though? Maybe not so cool. Crashdïet’s one-and-only full-length release, 2005’s Rest In Sleaze
, is a tour-de-force of ‘80s metal, channelling the best and the worst of the glam and power metal eras with typical reckless abandon and little regard for good taste.
It’s far from original, as you can guess, sounding very much like a sum of its parts rather than a coherent whole. As such there’s no typical Crashdïet “sound.” The band imitate their heroes impressively, but there’s a sense that any one of the ten songs could be taken from a different ‘80s/early ‘90s metal album: ‘Straight Outta Hell’ could come from Painkiller
, ‘Knokk ‘Em Down’ fakes like Extreme
’s ‘Money’ but makes like something from Skid Row
, while ‘Tikket’ could be an outtake from Slave To The Grind
. The killer, though, is that none of them really stand up to the material on those albums.
Frontman Dave Lepard is a versatile vocalist, boasting in his armoury a Halford-style falsetto and a sweet radio ballad voice that, at its best, disguises the last traces of his slight Swedish accent, though he generally goes for a mid-range Sebastian Bach-type dirty wail. At his roughest, Lepard affects a raspy Mike Monroe-type snarl that’s aggressive but non-threatening in a way that only certain Scandinavian metal singers and all death metal vocalists can be. Lepard hits his peak on standout tracks ‘Out of Line’ and ‘Queen Obscene / 69 Eyes,’ where his interaction with the shamelessly overblown harmonised chorus vocals is nothing short of masterful
‘It’s A Miracle’ is a highlight, sounding like latter day Hanoi Rocks-meets-Duran Duran, with a furious
electronic beat and the type of glossy synthesised chorus VH1 Classics would go nuts for, but ‘Needle In Your Eye’ combines awkward off-key vocals with a lame hook, one-phrase chorus combo that not even Judas Priest
would touch. Album-closer ‘Back on Trakk’ is a gentle reminder of why nobody listens to Europe anymore, and ‘Out of Line’ just aches for an interesting hook.
Truthfully, for an album of just ten short tracks, Rest In Sleaze
is shamefully top-heavy- think Cinderella-buried-under-a-disused-quarry heavy- a fact made all the more remarkable by the fact that a) they had three years to prepare the album; and b) the standout tracks are so damn good they actually threaten to overshadow the mediocre whole. ‘Queen Obscene / 69 Shots,’ a sleazy garage rocker that recalls compatriots the Backyard Babies
, breaks out with a tight lead guitar harmonies and shows the full range of the band’s talents, from Maiden-esque galloping rhythms to the romping chorus that’s one part Axl Rose, two parts Johnny Thunders with enough left over a speedball or two.
‘Breakin’ The Chainz’ is another made-for-radio chunky rocker that recalls now-defunct English glam-rockers The Ga*Ga*s
, but it’s the debut single ‘Riot in Everyone’ that Crashdïet will be remembered for in the future, if they are indeed remembered for anything other than Lepard’s tragic suicide earlier this year. As sleaze rockers go, there’s few that better encapsulate the spirit of the genre, with guitars that ooze Metallica
and a vocal track that challenges even the best of Mike Monroe’s performances, while the infectious chorus-line reads, ”we’re the kids of the underground and there’s a riot in everyone.”
But it begs the question: why isn’t it all this good?