Review Summary: Despite containing some brilliant songs and improved lyrics, this is a good but dissapointingly inconsistent album.
With Glam metals popularity on the wane, Poison felt they needed to change course slightly. Which meant ditching the make up, the ultra flamboyant dress and toning down the cheese a notch for their next album. In short, getting 'serious'.
The search for seriousness is evident from the off, with the weirdly ambient and slow intro 'Strange Days of Uncle Jack' which leads us into the straight up, pleasant enough, rocker 'Valley of Lost Souls'. The best balance between serious and fun is struck in 'Flesh and Blood Sacrifice' - with the synth use toned down but the chorus and riffs just as hooky and as catchy as ever, one of the best songs on the album. Another genuinely great song, which is gloriously lacking in cheese, is 'Let it Play'. Whilst not as infectiously catchy as some of their previous hits, the awesome guitar work and more mature lyrics more than make up for that admission - another highlight.
The search for maturity is where the filler starts to creep in, with 'Come Hell or Highwater', 'Ball and Chain', 'Ride The Wind' and 'Don't Give an Inch' being quite bog standard. But there are still postive things to be said about these songs. These being the lead guitarist's, C.C. DeVille, great performances and the good lyrics to 'Ride The Wind' - which are let down by the blandness of the song.
It seems like the unadulterated, love them or loathe them, fun filled chart hits like 'Talk Dirty To Me' are largely missing from this album - making this far removed from their first album, Look What The Cat Dragged In, and far less nauseating on repeated listens. With the obvious exception of the hit single 'Unskinny Bop', which is uncannily catchy, sports a groovy bassline and dumb lyrics and is much less poppy than their previous hits. Another memorable moment.
Dont despair though, the old Poison stalwart the power ballad makes plenty of appearances in this album - obviously being one thing they could not afford to tone down. 'Life Goes On' is up first on the menu, and is stuffed with cliché. It is nothing more than the rockier and poorer cousin of 'Every Rose Has It's Thorn'. But Michaels up his game with 'Life Loves a Tragedy', which starts off slow and dull and then kicks it's self into life in emotive and rocky style - this should have been released as a single. Things get better still with 'Something To Believe In', which is thoroughly heartfelt and contains beautiful lyrics by Michaels. It is about losing faith in a life that is full of despair, greed, hopelessness and the Vietnam war - akin to many a song by Bruce Springsteen. This is by far Poison's best ballad.
Poisons effort to move towards more adult and mature music brings about mixed results. Whilst giving us a handfull of brilliant rock songs that are just as Catchy as their 80s output without the off putting layer of cheese. 'Flesh and Blood Sacrifice', 'Unskinny Bop' and 'Something To Believe In' being the best example of this. It also gives us lots of bog standard, decidedly average, hard rock songs' which leave a lot to be desired. Despite containing some brilliant songs and improved lyrics, this is a good but dissapointingly inconsistent album.