Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday CD Review: Warrant - Ultraphobic

Released in 1995 after the demise of hair metal, Ultraphobic, was Warrant’s swan song. When the disc came out it received little to no attention, because the music buying public was still reeling in the death of Kurt Cobain, the explosion of grunge, and consuming copious amounts of alternative rock. That left little attention for Warrant.

Ultraphobic opens with a decidedly different type of song for Warrant, Undertow. Gone are the days of glam, girls, drugs, and partying to the wee hours of the morning. As the music scene changed, so did Warrant. Perhaps this was their way of trying to “fit in,” or it maybe it was their answer to the explosive grunge bomb. Whatever the case, it was definitely a different musical statement for the band.

Undertow is a heavier rocker in the vein of 90s alternative, with a muddier sound than the Hollywood strip tunes the band had become famous for. Gone are the glitzy solos, traded for a twin guitar attack, and a more intense rhythm. As an opener, this track is sure to grab the listener’s attention and make them realize this is not your brother’s Warrant disc.

Other notable songs contained include:

Followed, is the second track on the disc, which plays out in a similar fashion to the previous one. A heavier, murkier sound that proves the previous song was not an experimental one; this is the new sound of Warrant. Jani’s vocals lay nice over the top of the dark music. The two complement each other quite well.

Sum of One slows things down a bit and comes closer to the traditional ballad format, but it is not a weeper like Heaven. This is possibly the best song on the album and the lyrics of depression and misery fit right in with the grunge style captured on the disc. Jani writes: When the sun came up today/I asked him please to go away/something died in me last night/I feel hollow on my inside. A disparaging song of pain and misery, Sum of One, hits home and stays there. I dare you not to sing along by your second listen.

Chameleon comes close to being described as a power ballad, but still holds onto the new style that was embraced on this record. Jani’s voice is powerful and dark, surrounding the ear lobes with a blistering gift of sweet melody and perfect harmony. The massive guitar riffs help take this song to the next level and solidify it as one of the strongest tracks.

The closer is an acoustic number, Stronger Now. It’s a gem where Jani’s higher vocals compliment the acoustic guitar and has an 80s feel to it, with a 90s twist. It’s a sad song of unrequited love and knowing when it’s time to say goodbye to a stagnant relationship.

Warrant may have been trying to change their sound or their style with this album, but whatever they were attempting to achieve just helped them put out a great record. More than a decade later, this disc still holds up, and if it were released as a brand new disc tomorrow, I think it would sell an extreme amount of copies.

This disc is definitely worth your time. It shouldn’t be too hard to find on Amazon or EBay or CD Baby, or at a collectible record shop near you. I highly recommend it.

Ryo’s Rating: 7.5 (out of 10)

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