Released: 2005, Dead Line Music/Cleopatra Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
As Dave Mustaine carries on with new musicians under the Megadeth name, his former partner-in-crime (both literally and figuratively), David Ellefson, moves in another direction with his new band, F5, and its album, A DRUG FOR ALL SEASONS. The split with Mustaine was a very messy and public one with lawsuits and plenty of accusations flying from both sides generating more bad press than good. It seems a settlement has been made and the focus can be turned back to what counts—the music. A DRUG FOR ALL SEASONS is far removed from Ellefson’s previous work in Megadeth, as it features a mix of hook-filled, melodic modern hard rock/metal that has more in common with bands like Disturbed, Velvet Revolver and Sevendust. Musically, the band holds up well and delivers on all counts. Vocalist Dale Steele sounds very close to Disturbed’s David Draiman (minus the throaty monkey noises) on many of the tracks but nowhere does the music devolve into nu-metal rubbish. Guitarists Steve Conley and John Davis split lead and rhythm duties and while solos are used sparingly, the riffing sets up tight rhythms for Ellefson and drummer Dave Small to follow. The choruses are radio-friendly catchy and instantly memorable but with enough bite to please fans of the heavier stuff, as well.
I was a bit leery of what to expect when I first got this CD but as soon as “Faded” kicks in, all reservations were forgotten. The riffs are ensconced firmly in the modern heavy rock vein and pack plenty of punch, with Steele doing his best Dave Draiman impression. “Dissidence,” “Fall To Me” and “Bleeding” are all cut from the same cloth—driving, groove-based hard rock backing melodic choruses that burrow deep into your brain for days. “Dying On The Vine” borders on a Velvet Revolver glam-rock vibe, with thunderous power chords and an attitude-filled vocal from Steele. “Hold Me Down” features some interesting breaks and the verses are reserved enough to let the chorus swing in to pump the song full of energy. The amusing lyrics behind “X’d Out” touch on the misfortune of Paris Hilton, Tommy Lee, et al, whose home video adventures got leaked for public viewing. Ellefson drops a 12-string bass instrumental with “Forte Sonata” and what makes it interesting is that the entire track is played exclusively on the bass despite the sound of strings, guitar and bass. Very cool way to end the CD.
The only real misstep that can be found on A DRUG FOR ALL SEASONS is the bizarre choice of a cover track—Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians’ trippy 1988 hit, “What I Am.” F5 certainly make it their own and it took the chorus to finally recognize the track but this simply doesn’t work. The original was a flakey, neo-hippy pop song and F5 butches it up here but Steele’s tough-guy vocals just kill the essence of the original version’s cryptic fluff. I’ll admit to being a big fan of the Brickell & Co. version when it first hit the airwaves—I still own the CD—so maybe for someone who has never heard the original, F5’s take may not be that bad but to these ears, it is sacrilege.
A DRUG FOR ALL SEASONS is a change of pace to what I hear for the most part and to be honest, it was welcome change and a pleasant surprise. Fans expecting to hear Ellefson tear it up a la RUST IN PEACE need look elsewhere because it ain’t happening here. This is a briskly-paced, modern rock record that is firmly entrenched into the popular sounds of 2005. Despite the unfortunate marketing ploy of the big yellow label reading “File Under MEGADETH Featuring DAVID ELLEFSON!” emblazoned on the cover, F5 is a strong band with enough talent to stand on its own without pandering to former glories. Put simply, A DRUG FOR ALL SEASONS rocks from front to back and with any luck, radio will pick up on some of these tracks and make F5 a success.
KILLER KUTS: “Faded,” “Dissidence,” “Fall To Me,” “Bleeding,” “Dying On The Vine,” “Hold Me Down”