Over the last few years or so, it seems that Sweden – traditionally known for it’s contribution to the more extreme realms of Metal – has experienced somewhat of a Hair Metal revival. Some of it has been quite horrible - looking at you RECKLESS LOVE (who I know are from Finnland, but come on, same thing). However, quite a lot of it has been beyond excellent; and falling into this later camp, along with veterans HARDCORE SUPERSTAR and the insanely awesome CRASHDIET, is Malmo’s CRAZY LIXX. The band’s third album, doesn’t quite match up to their previous offering, the outstanding "New Religion" (2010), but that’s only because that album was so damn good, and otherwise "Riot Avenue" is another great release from one of the scene’s best and most exciting bands.
“Whisky Tango Foxtrot” isn’t quite the explosive opener this sort of album demands, and seems somewhat unfitting to mark the start of the record, but is nonetheless an enjoyable rocker in and of itself. It perhaps even works better by allowing the album to pick up over the next couple of tracks rather than eclipsing them the way stacking a song as strong as “Rock And A Hard Place” (from "New Religion") perhaps might. Either way, it’s not really until the stomping “Young Blood” and the high-octane, title-tack have said their piece that you’re really on board with the whole thing, but from there on the band go from strength to strength, offering up some of the most delightfully cheesy Cock Rock/Glam Metal, the world has ever seen.
Overall, "Riot Avenue," for all its gloss and polish, sees the band taking a much more reserved, bluesy, Hard Rock approach to their music, as opposed to the huge Bubblegum, Pop-Metal anthems of "New Religion" and "Loud Minority." AC/DC seems to be of particular influence, specifically on “Young Blood” and “In The Night," whose main riff and bass break may as well have been lifted directly from “Let there Be Rock." All the while though, the Swedes blend this new aesthetic with their tried and true, MOTLEY CRUE, Punk Rock, street imagery and DEF LEPPARD quality song writing and production to create something that is at once so camp and so sincere. The songs are, for the most part, entirely predictable and beyond overblown. “Heatseeker," in particular, falls onto the ‘so bad it’s good’ side of things, with it’s gang vocal ‘Roar!’ and far beyond cheesy chorus. Seriously, even EUROPE would be cringing at the lyrics to that song, but it’s so damn sincere and genuine and the band rock so hard that it transcends all judgement and just plain rocks. Hard.
Of particular note is “Downtown” - the best song about wanting to have sex with a friend’s sister (in this case a female friend’s far more attractive sister) since JETTBLACK’s “When It Comes To Loving” – and the outstanding Rock N’ Roll anthem “Church Of Rock," which sounds unshakably like SKID ROW’S “Youth Gone Wild” and comes complete with a cheeky throwback to "New Religion."
Another thing that adds to the album’s utility is its accessibly short-playing time. This, combined with a very high density of goodness, allows "Riot Avenue" to be one of those albums that can be replayed the instant its over (as I may have done a few times upon first getting it) and to still feel fresh and exciting. There’s just so much energy and excitement packed into the album, that the familiar predictability of the songs actually works to its advantage; continuously titillating the leister while all the time guaranteeing a huge, if comfortable, payoff.
"Riot Avenue" may not be the most creative or original of releases, but it isn’t meant to be. What it’s meant to be is a celebration of this kind of music and above all fun, and in this respect it delivers in spades. If you’ve ever enjoyed anything by DEF LEPPARD, BON JOVI, SKID ROW or anything of that ilk, then "Riot Avenue" is not to be missed.
(Online May 12, 2012)