|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By: Tim Bushong|
|Record Label: Retroactive||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2009||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 12||Rating: 90%|
|Running Time: 52:52|
I always appreciate it when a band is not afraid to reinvent itself from one album to the next. I see it not just as a sign of confidence but creativity as well, a willingness to branch out and broaden your horizons- with the end result the attainment of your musical potential. Bride exemplified this best with the changeover it made from power metal and thrash - Live To Die (1988) and Silence Is Madness (1989) - to the straightforward hard rock of Kinetic Faith (1991) and Snakes In The Playground (1992). Deliverance, of course, also deserves mention, a group that played melodic speed metal on its 1989 self-titled debut and sophomore release Weapons Of Our Warfare (1990) but switched to heavy metal for the follow up efforts Stay Of Execution (1991) and Learn (1993). And let’s not forget Holy Soldier, who went from the melodic metal of Last Train (1992) to the modern/alternative flavorings characteristic to Promise Man (1995). Well, maybe not all transformations are good after all.
One band that made the right decisions in successfully changing its sound – and branched out and broadened its horizons in the process – is Wilmington, Delaware based Main Line Riders. Releasing its full length debut Shot In The Dark on Retroactive Records in the fall of 2007, Main Line Riders started out playing a late eighties Sunset Strip sleaze style of metal not unlike LA Guns, Faster Pussycat, Guns N’ Roses, Junkyard, Hanoi Rocks and Kix. A change in vocalists, however, led to a new musical direction for the group. With Shawn Edward Browning replacing the department Mike Mayhem, Main Line Riders now goes after an AC/DC influenced brand of metal and hard rock on its 2009 Retroactive sophomore effort Worldshaker.
Now, if you are pursuing an AC/DC type sound you had better have a vocalist that can pull things off without a hitch. And such is what Main Line Riders has in Browning. Capturing that trademark snarl and attitude characteristic to Bon Scott or Brian Johnson, Browning shines throughout a procession of hook driven monsters that have old school AC/DC written all over them: “It All Ends Tonight”, “Hell Ain’t A Good Place To Be”, “Broken Hearted”, “Worldshaker”, “Power Surge” and “Chrome & Steel” all deliver that fiery riff or extra element of energy that will have you returning time and again.
Rounding out the project is a couple of covers from Shot In The Dark, “Throwin’ Bones To The Wolves” and “We Are The Ready Ones”, that translate well with the bands new sound. The guys also throw us a couple of curve balls in the form of an acoustic laced ballad, “Comin’ Home”, and the aptly entitled “Rhythm-N-Blues”, a brilliant piece that can best be described as an army of metal guitar playing Elvis’ descending upon Las Vegas all at once.
My overall feeling is that if you enjoy AC/DC (in both its eras) and X-Sinner (in both its eras as well- Dave Robbins and Rex Scott) you will find a lot to like in Worldshaker. If your tastes trend towards any type of eighties influenced metal and hard rock then I can see this also appealing to you.
Equally important to any AC/DC influenced group is its guitar team (and please do not tell me you can pull music of this capacity off with only one guitarist!). Without a doubt the duo of Cliffy and Matthew Kenenske deliver the goods, combining for a profusion of riffs – some fast paced and others chugging but always offering enough variety to keep your full attention – and jagged edge lead guitar steeped in the blues.
All around, the project – whether it is the crisp production, consistent songwriting or band performance – reeks of professionalism and attention to detail.
Lyrically, I might describe the material here as reflecting the bands faith but without being in your face. Check out “Hell Ain’t A Good Place To Be” to understand my point:
You don’t care if ya die
Ya say the truth is a lie
It’s your life to do whatcha please
But any road ya choose gonna drive ya to your knees
Hell ain’t a good place to be
“Worldshaker” reflects this as well:
Life taker, deal breaker
You knee before the real worldshaker
Muckraker, love faker
Can’t run from the one worldshaker
“It All Ends Tonite” kicks in with all the momentum of a runaway freight train, chugging its distance to razor edged guitar riffs and pumping bass lines in establishing an unrelenting environs. Chorus wise, a straightforward but simple direction is taken: continually repeating the songs title as the rhythm guitar grinds away in the background.
“Throwin’ Bones To The Wolves”, upheld by a snarling mix of rhythm guitar, proves perfectly suited for the bands new musical direction. With well placed backing vocals sustaining its chorus and Browning adding just the right amount of edge to his delivery, this one is guaranteed to remain with you for some time.
Low key, bottom heavy and plodding, “Hell Aint’ A Good Place To Be” delivers the goods in driving through its hard charging verses and a chorus standing out with a near swarthy milieu. As with much of the material here, the lead work is drenched in the blues.
The bands trademark backing vocals make their presence felt on “Through With You”, playing a leading role during its introduction while helping to spice up what can best be described as quite the rollicking chorus. I particularly enjoy how the rhythm guitar slices in and out of the mix while a drum solo gets things going.
The ballad “Comin’ Home” represents the albums most relaxed piece. Sustained its full length acoustically but interwoven with traces of rhythm guitar, the song success resides in its prominent melody and Browning’s complementary gut-level vocal approach. Gritty stretch of lead guitar tops things off.
“Broken Hearted” starts to some ominous riffing before taking off with a plethora of mid-paced muscle. As it moves ahead, this one proves one of the albums heaviest. You are going to be up to your ears in rhythm guitar while the chorus – not the catchiest but certainly not lacking in power – is sustained by heavy duty backing vocals.
“Worldshaker” is as dominant a piece as you will find. With its anthem-like riffs and underpinning of staunch bass lines, the albums title comes across as energy in full force. Again, not the catchiest but you are going to find yourself drawn to this one as a result of the all out strength of its delivery.
Hooks in abundance are delivered on “Power Surge”. It all starts with the chorus – gripping, dominant and just plain driven – but culminates with the churning assault of the prevailing low end. Buzz saw guitars lead the way to the albums best stretch of lead guitar.
“Chrome & Steel”? Album best track. This one was built for radio with its start to finish pull you in impetus – I love the catchy “nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh” backing vocals – and swagger not unlike that of old school AC/DC. The rhythm guitar drives a lengthy instrumental section.
Worldshaker makes a bit of a musical detour on the aptly entitled “Rhythm-N-Blues”. Staying true to its namesake, the song proves three minutes of groove-laden brilliance with its rollicking momentum and non-stop hook driven action. I can’t stop listening to this one.
“We Are The Ready Ones”, the second of the Shot In The Dark tracks, captures the spirit of the original. The song brings the same type of catchiness but exudes more of a “hair metal feel” when compared too much of the albums material. Fittingly, a raspier direction is taken vocal wise.
“It’s A Revolution” closes things out in the form of a straightforward and no frills hard rocker. What you see is what you get: big guitars, big drums and even bigger hooks. Guttural backing vocals shore up its unwavering chorus.
In you are interested in a metal/had rock release that brings front to back musical consistency then look no further than Worldshaker. Likewise, those into an AC/DC influenced sound – or any form of eighties based metal – will find a lot to like here. Give Main Line Riders credit, at the same time, for successfully reinventing itself. Along that line, the best way to close would be in the form of a question: What’s next guys- Euro-style power metal?
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “It All Ends Tonite” (3:25), “Thrown’ Bones To The Wolves” (3:06), “Hell Ain’t A Good Place To Be” (4:30), “Through With You” (4:50), “Comin’ Home” (5:19), “Broken Hearted” (4:51), “Worldshaker” (5:02), “Power Surge” (4:18), “Chrome & Steel” (4:43), “Rhythm-N-Blues” (3:10), “We Are The Ready Ones” (5:00), “It’s A Revolution” (4:40)
Shawn Edward Browning – Lead Vocals
Cliffy – Guitars
Matthew Kenenske – Guitars
Tim Bushong – Bass, additional Guitars, Drums & Percussions
George Creshine – Drums
Aaron Bushong – Additional Drums