Review Summary: A bad follow-up to decent Born Again
After Jani Lane quit in 2004 Warrant survived two vocalist replacements. The first one was Jamie St. James, with whom the band recorded surprisingly energetic Born Again
. Then, when the new line-up went into studio to work on a new album, the management persuaded Lane to return. This resulted in a tour of the reunited band, which ended not with a bang but with a whimper – before the conclusion of the tour Lane left Warrant once more, this time for good. To replace him the band invited Robert Mason (ex-Lynch Mob) who helped during the remaining concerts and later officially joined as a new vocalist. And so Rockaholic
, released in 2011, was recorded with this line-up that remains constant thus far.
After the straightforward (albeit derivative) hard rock of Born Again
it was somewhat curious what the new LP would sound like with the new vocalist: whether Warrant continues in the direction indicated earlier, returns to its initial sound or goes in somewhere else. Quite often the departure of the band’s leader ends unpleasantly for two primary reasons – on the one hand this immediately results in break-up, on the other hand songwriting quality frequently dives down, again resulting in the break-up (although there are examples of other, positive outcomes).
What is immediately noticeable with Rockaholic
is the absence of the liveliness and energy, present on Born Again
that allowed to let slide to some extent the lack of originality. Here the band members sound tired and uninspired, playing as if they have to, instead of enjoying the process. In addition to this not one musician in Warrant – be it guitarists, bass player or drummer – rarely produced anything that more often than not can be described as ‘solid and average’, and when you combine this all and multiply it by 14 (the number of tracks on the new album), this equals to 54 minutes of dubious pleasure.
Unfortunately, the new vocalist fails to improve the situation. In terms of vocals Mr. Mason is completely in synch with the rest of the band – his performance is solid but in no way outstanding. Nowhere on the album does he give or even touch upon anything remotely exciting, producing a standard and predictable result thus adding one more minus to the big picture.
With the record’s contents the situation is no less sad. Instead of that hilarious but lively gibberish presented as lyrics on Born Again
provides a CDful of clichés far from the highest order. Practically all songs are devoted to one topic only – women and everything related to them in this way or another. It is enough to just take a look at the track titles – Sex Ain’t Love
, Innocence Gone
, What Love Can Do
, Tears in the City
– and you get a complete picture of the thematic extent and diversity provided on the album. Moreover, Warrant decided to load the record with a number of third-rate ballads (something they forwent on the previous LP). Sure, they could have spiced up the blandness with some humor or exquisiteness of phrases and images, but it seems this wasn’t the objective. It is comparing to Rockaholic
that you start to realize the earlier albums were not that bad because of some effort put in by Jani Lane, and here his absence is a lot more noticeable than on Born Again
The result is quite disappointing. The band that never really had big ambitions and made only moderate attempts to improve their sound, managed to lose the enthusiasm and produced an album unessential even for fans of Warrant. Everything on Rockaholic
is competent and professionally made but fail to generate any kind of interest. It is probable that the band were displeased with the result too as there seems to be no plans to release a new album. Instead, Warrant decided to follow the example of their brothers in trade and live off touring and early successes. However, anything is possible.