Rating 9.5 of 10
When it was announced that former Alice Cooper guitarist Kane Roberts was to be releasing an album of new material I was quite excited, to be honest. Roberts Self-Titled debut album was an album that I have thoroughly enjoyed throughout the years. Now let’s not forget the two Alice Cooper releases that Roberts contributed to in the late ’80s. Both albums, Constrictor and Raise Your Fist And Yell respectively were solid hard rock contributions. Although possibly not as known as the Cooper album Trash that followed, these were still a good introduction into the rebirth of Cooper’s career. Roberts of course was known as “The Rambo of Rock” to many back in the ’80s. It was hard not to make that comparison as that was the persona that graced the cover of his debut. To me, there was more to Roberts than that persona. Roberts is a super talented composer, singer, and guitarist. Roberts has released music on and off since 1987. Who remembers his solid Saints and Sinner album from 1993? I think since that time though, Roberts has remained pretty low key up until now. With the release of The New Normal, Roberts shows a distinct diversity that may not have been present back in the ’80s.
The album starts off with a beautiful introduction on the track “King of the World”. The track then takes off in a heavier form. As the chorus begins to show itself, it becomes a supercharged hard rock track. Dynamically this track is filled with superb ups and downs throughout. What takes this track to the next level is the fantastic guitar solo by current Alice Cooper guitarist Nita Strauss. On “Beginning of the End”, Roberts really showcases his songwriting skills as he captures the essence of a true theatrical type composition. Gracing the vocals on this track are none other than Alice Cooper, Arch Enemy vocalist Alissa White-Gluz and Roberts. It’s a fight within itself. In some ways, and I told Roberts this recently, this track would fit perfectly within the confines of Coopers ‘Brutal Planet’ album. There is so much grit within, but then the vocals of White-Gluz bring it back to a scene of beauty. It’s almost a Beauty and the Beast scenario. Well formulated Mr. Roberts. This song has so much to offer to the listener. The guitar work of Roberts at the end now brings this song into another dimension as it slowly fades out with Roberts doing some incredible shredding. Let’s rewind and hear that one again, shall we? Brilliant.
Progressing on to “Who We Are”, Roberts conveys a different mood and direction. The use of new technology mixed with a classic acoustic guitar is a nice blend as Roberts projects a soft vocal. As I make my way through the album, track five “Forever Out Of Place” adds another dimension to this fantastic listening experience. This is a traditional, hard rock composition with serious pop sensibilities that would attract the average listener but also impress the hard-nosed critic like myself. Throughout, the album is simply grasping me. I find it flows so nicely from song to song with nothing sounding like the last song. There is a certain cohesiveness within. I think given the right promotion this album could truly bring Roberts to the forefront in terms of commercialism.
As I get closer to the end, I am intrigued by the track “Above and Beyond”. This track features the classic Cooper Constrictor line-up of Roberts, Kip Winger, Paul Taylor, and Ken Mary. Like that line-up on the ‘Constrictor’ album and subsequent tour, this song does not disappoint. An anthem-like track as it reaches the mid-section. The background vocals and superb harmonies support this truly fantastic track perfectly.
As I recollect The New Normal, my thoughts are of much respect and enjoyment. I hear so many different elements of hard rock and heavy metal in the last forty years. The New Normal is a collection of songs that really leave an impact on the listener. In some ways, you feel beaten and bruised from the sheer intensity in spots. Truly a fine piece of work.
Standout Tracks: 1-10!!!
Review by Tyson Briden