Review Summary: After a four year break, 4Lyn comes back with a generic and uninspired effort.2 of 2 thought this review was well written
After the release and subsequent touring of 2008's radio friendly album "Hello", German rock quartet 4Lyn decided to take an extended break which shook up the inner core of the band. Chief songwriter and lead guitarist Rene Knupper left the band on amicable terms, and despite homegrown success in Germany, the band left their record label Rodeostar. Fans barely heard any news, and in this day and age of Twitter and Facebook, for a band you love it can be kind of alarming. Nevertheless, 4Lyn decided to recruit a new guitarist (Dennis Kruger), signed to a new label (Very Us), clear their heads, and come back when they were ready. Fast forward four years later, and we have "Quasar", an album singer Ron Cazzato stated would have fans going "Yeah that's cool, but this is 4Lyn?".
The truth is that Quasar is an incredibly typical and average 4Lyn release. All of the familiar elements are there: loud buzzing guitars, big hooks, some rap-rock thrown in here and there, a ballad or two, and an obvious influence of Linkin Park and Papa Roach. Some of the material measures up; others are just embarassing. The only song where the band decides to experiment with their sound is the first single, "Club Exploitation". Don't let the political lyrics or swagger rock style fool you, once the chorus kicks in it's a full blown dance song with a beat and bass line that just straddles the line of disco. Midway through the song, cheerleaders chant and spell the song title a few times. It's different… and strangely unengaging. But the worst by far is the second single "I Am A Phantom". 4Lyn should be embarassed by this song. This might have been passable fluff back in 1999 when rap-rock was all the rage, but in 2012 this just doesn't cut it. The beat isn't bad, I'll give it that, but the lyrics and rap are so painfully awful you'll cringe by the time singer Ron croons "Set this world on fire!". Throw in an uninspired chorus and cliché after cliché and, for a song that's supposed to represent the album as the second single, you have what I can only dub a disaster.
Considering those are the first two singles, I dreaded hearing the full album. Well thankfully, it's not bad… it's just not great either. Opener "My Guide" is a rocking power ballad that effectively expands on the areas explored in their previous album "Hello", and the wall-of-sound guitar will get your blood pumping; the same can be said of "M.O.N.E.Y", which would make for a great release to rock radio. The band definitely knows its way around a hook, and truth be told this is the style they need to stick to because it's what they do best (those are definitely the best tracks on the album). "10 Minutes Ago" is a little too poppy for my tastes and the chorus is insanely cheesy- I foresee it possibly being added to the soundtrack of a teen romance film. Seeing as the album goes from hormonal sounding rap-rock to angsty nu-metal to mature alternative rock balladry, hearing a pop-rock song of this calibre is smack in the middle of the album is disconcerting and out of place. The rest of the album... well songs like "Someone's Got 2 Do It", "Jewellery Store", "Frost" and "Train 2.0" are generic sounding rockers that you've all heard a thousand times before… nothing special, it just gets the job done if you're wanting to hear something a little angry but not too harsh to scare off the mommies and kiddies. "Hollow Man" is an admirable attempt at a piano-driven ballad, not always on the mark but for the most part it works and demonstrates great vocals from Ron Cazzato's somewhat thin voice.
In the end, "Quasar" sounds very unfocused. The band seems to want to try different things, yet they have a very difficult time letting go of the past. They started off as a Limp Bizkit clone and thankfully evolved from there and continued in their own direction, shedding the rap elements and working on either rocking your socks off or jamming their catchiest songs in your head and making sure they stay there. "Quasar" works sometimes with a handful of highlights, but the band sounds lost and the album jumps too harshly between what they're good at, the band they used to be, and a few new tricks that don't mesh well together. They need to stick with their strengths and let go of the past. I know there's a more consistent effort in there somewhere; perhaps it'll take the next album to see it.