Review Summary: A surprisingly strong album by Warrant. I guess they are able to surprise.
As you might know the first two Warrant albums were a rather standard party rock (or, to be more specific, glam metal). The band followed all the necessary requirements and did gain some popularity – whether it was deserved or not is up to each person to decide. Although it should be noted: on Cherry Pie
there were some anomalies that allegedly hinted at the desire of the band’s main idea man Jani Lane to go beyond the glam metal framework. Obviously, it is just an assumption. Nevertheless if you decide to listen to their third album Dog Eat Dog
, this assumption would seem to be quite probable.
The record was released in August 1992, when (as everybody well knows) grunge reigned, and hairy musicians in tasteless clothes were in disfavor. Presumably, the band took that into consideration while working on the album, therefore the obvious lack of many glam metal elements would immediately be noticeable to the listener. There are a lot less pop hooks to catch the ear and many songs are not solely based on big choruses. Instead there is a general increase in songwriting quality. The fun and party vibe, typical for glam metal, is now replaced with more serious-minded hard rock. Undoubtedly, slower tempo of many songs contributes to that. No attempts to imitate Van Halen are made as well, hence less flashy guitars and less blistering solos, but everybody is focused on achieving consistency without each band member trying to outdo others.
These changes are the most evident on two tracks, which are clearly standouts on the album – April 2031
и Andy Warhol Was Right
. Judging by the name it seems that the former describes the world in that year 2031. The narrator tells about the world that he lives in and recalls stories about the world that was. The picture appears to be quite a dystopian one, and it is underlined by guitars resembling the sound of operating mechanisms at the factories that contributed to such an outcome. Another interesting thing that adds to and enhance the overall atmosphere of despair is the chanting, which appears at the end of the track and repeats a part of the chorus. This all makes the song a rather effective warning to those not caring for their own planet. Andy Warhol Was Right
is also a curious one, and quite an accomplishment for the band. The track is distinguished by the absence of choruses and has a clearly defined storyline, divided into several parts, each with its own mood (and it is all crammed into fairly standard 3 minutes and 37 seconds). In short, the song tells about a man, who from his childhood days was somehow isolated from the world, and when he gets older, he only has a TV to relate to. On the TV he sees famous people and wonders why he isn’t famous himself. So he decides to murder somebody (looks like the victim, maybe even his first, is his mother) to get himself on the silver screen. I suppose this is what the name refers to – the so-called 15 minutes of fame, an expression credited to Mr. Warhol. The song utilizes acoustic and electric guitars, piano and orchestra, and even xylophone, with all the musical instruments employed to highlight the story. And it is surprisingly effective.
But don’t think that the rest acts as filler (however, that is present too). Almost every single song contains elements that allow to separate them from the others. Hole in My Wall
, the most hard rocking cut, has a solo section performed through the talk box, making the guitar say the titular “The hole in my wall
stands out due to its chorus, with the second half enhanced by the orchestral arrangement. The Bitter Pill
remains a pretty standard power ballad, until all of a sudden an interlude in German appears, giving it a vibe of a Wagnerian opera. Let It Rain
, one more ballad, is interesting for its gospel elements, bringing thoughts of religious songs and prayer. All the Bridges Are Burning
is about the drug addiction and what it does to the life of an addict, and it is made by its big chorus, whereas the opener Machine Gun
is driven by the main riff that resembles machine gun firing. Hollywood (So Far, So Good)
creates a decent impression, but is remembered for its melody which evokes definite associations with Jane’s Addiction’s Jane Says
Only two last songs can be called a low point on the album – a punk-inspired Inside Out
is without any noteworthy composition or lyrical findings, and because of that it is significantly inferior to previous tracks; Sad Theresa
is just bland. On the minus side it can also be mentioned some of the abovementioned songs contain relics from the band’s past and are devoted to topics of love and sex. This setback doesn’t let us to call the album a full success.
Nevertheless Dog Eat Dog
is a definite step forward for Warrant. We would seem that two key aspects instrumental to this improvement are further development of Jani Lane as a songwriter and involvement of Michael Wagener as producer. Lane’s lyrics in many songs provide rather well written narratives, while Mr. Wagener brings his experience in hard rock (he worked in this or that capacity with Metallica, Skid Row, Megadeth, White Lion, Motley Crue and Ozzy Osbourne). As a result all these efforts took the shape of a strong album from the band which never really aspired to much.