Despite the peak of his fame coming twenty years ago, Gary Cheone is a busy guy. His “big” band, Extreme, is still going strong, with a very solid album out in 2008, and an equally solid live album last year; in the between touring stints with that band he’s put out a solo EP (2005), an electronica-flavoured album with Tribe of Judah (2002), and of course, his (in)famous stint in Van Halen. Now he’s formed a band with his guitar playing brother Mark – Hurtsmile.
Cherone has always been known as a guy who’s not afraid to experiment with rock music, and Hurtsmile is more proof of that. The album is certainly eclectic, featuring everything from straight up rock (“Just War Theory”), to Extreme-styled funk rock (“Stillborn”), balladry (“Beyond the Garden”, and even gospel (“Jesus Would You Meet Me”). The music is definitely all over the road, but the album still holds together due to Cherone’s typically thoughtful lyrics, all centred around the conflicts and bigotry going on in the world today.
This seems like it would be a recipe for success, but somehow it all falls flat. None of the songs on the album are particularly impressive or memorable; the album just kind of flows by and doesn’t make an impact. That speaks to the lack of quality in the song writing, suggesting that Cherone might just need his old pal Nuno Bettencourt to write a full quality album. Still, I can see where most Extreme fans would dig this, but it just doesn’t connect with me.
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