Review Summary: This album is identical to the previous two - one catchy hit song, and the rest is mediocre to boring.
Guano Apes are a very fun band from Germany, playing a very endearing brand of hard rock/metal that has earned a moniker "skateboard metal" in some circles. And that's a pretty accurate description. "Walking On A Thin Line" is their third album and it was the first one I've listened to. It's unfortunate that being their third album it contains no development at all from the previous two. It feels just like a copy of 2000's "Don't Give Me Names" - an album with good ideas countable on the fingers of a single hand drowned in a lake of mediocrity.
For those unfamiliar with the band, their singer is the fantastic Sandra Nasić, a girl possessed of a very unique and versatile voice which at most times is harsh and somewhat androgynous, yet capable of womanly warmth and delicacy when the need arises. Sandra doesn't spare her vocal cords on the record and is one of the strongest reasons for listening to this album and the band overall.
The funny thing is that everything I could say about this record also applies to the band's previous two - namely the fact that it contains a few great songs drowned in many more that are less than great. The fantastic opener "You Can't Stop Me" stands out a class above the second best song on this album, it's a hit single very akin to "Open Your Eyes" and "No Speech" from their previous two works. But if one plays stubborn, one could say that this first song is where the fun of this album ends. This terrible tendency mostly characteristic of label-bred pop bands has always haunted Guano Apes - they just can't write more than a few good songs for a whole album. Even their best songs and greatest hits mostly suffer in the verses and only flourish in the anthemic choruses. The riffs are horribly uninteresting and of the heard-it-a-million-times-already sort, even most of the vocal lines are the epitome of stereotypical. Listening to this album in its entirety is plain tedious.
A fan of the band should definitely not pass this up, as Guano Apes, despite their lacking songwriting skills, have been skilled at creating a unique vibe that's likely the thing that has garnered them so many fans. Most songs are very boring, but border on listenable, and jewels like "You Can't Stop Me" or "Dick" qualify for repeated listens. It's a big shame that these two songs are track one and two respectively, since they are the best songs on the album and after them things go downhill almost immediately. The ballad "Kiss the Dawn" is good as far as Guano Apes ballads go (also revealing the origin of the album's title in its lyics). Ironically, the track "Pretty in Scarlet" happens to be one of the only scarce others that have grabbed my attention. Why ironically? Because it's only track four. Tracks five and six are as boring as pleying with rocks, and track seven "High" is single material with a really fun main riff and a gripping chorus. Too bad that practically all the songs that follow are just rehashed versions of the first seven, oftentimes more boring and built on a single simplistic riff, more often than not not even a gimmicky one. At least the album closer's decent.
So all in all, folks. "Walking On A Thin Line" has its strong points, but these strong points could be salvaged from the album and listened on their own - this isn't what makes a fantastic album. Still, it won't hurt to give this album a listen.
Tracks recommended not to be skipped:
You Can't Stop Me
Kiss The Dawn