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Second Chances/ 3rd Times A Charm Albums

By: Rich Catino

I always wanted to do a feature focusing on, more so, the melodic hard rock bands (aka: hair metal), who’s second album deserved more respect, or their third album really hit the mark (and at times, more metal).

Case in point with the following:

Second Looks:

Trixter – Hear!: New Jersey’s Trixter were playing the clubs since the mid 80s before finally releasing their debut in 1990, featuring the hits singles ‘Give it To Me Good’, ‘One In A Million’, and ‘Surrender’. Unfortunately, no one wanted to hear the follow up “Hear”, because everyone was too busy listening to what the record companies and media were pushing with grunge and alternative rock. So like basically everyone from the 80s hard rock and heavy metal, Trxiter also broke up by the mid 90s. Regardless, “Hear” is top to bottom solid, filled with metal edged Van Halen riff rockers like ‘Damn Good’, ‘Rockin Horse’, ‘Bloodrock’, ‘On The Road Again’, to ‘Road of a Thousand Dreams’, Wild Is the Heart’, ‘Power Of Love’, and ‘What It Takes’ . “Hear” is more mature than the debut, sees Trixter being a little more adventurous with music, lyrics, and edge within their recognizable sound and style.

Firehouse – Hold Your Fire: Firehouse were also on the club circuit touring for many years since the mid 80s before releasing their debut not until 1990, featuring the hit radio rock singles ‘Don’t Treat me Bad’, ‘All She Wrote’, and ballad ‘Love Of A Lifetime’. But, by the second album, “Hold Your Fire” in 1992, the struggle was on to survive. “Hold Your Fire” continues their big Whitesnake riffs and melodic hooks, maintaining that strong metal edge guitar crunch. Unfortunately, this would not carry on to future albums. Still, “Hold Your Fire” contains eight hard rockers out of twelve, and two ballads. Solid album all around.

3rd Times a Charm:

Skid Row – Subhuman Race: By their second album “Slave To The Grind”, Skid Row hit paydirt delivering a perfect heavy metal record that debuted at #1 in the Billboard Charts. Their third, “Subhuman Race” may not be a charm, and included some influence from the alternative rock of the 90s. Still, while not as good as the first two, “Subhuman” is an interesting creative snapshot of Skid Row for the time. Standouts include ‘My Enemy’, ‘Firesign’, ‘Bonehead’, Eileen’, ‘Frozen’, ‘Medicine Jar’, ‘Breakin Down’.

Warrant: Dog Eat Dog: Not quite (yet still) the Warrant who wrote the pop metal hits ‘Down Boys’ and ‘Cherry Pie’, or tender ballads ‘Heaven’ and ‘I Saw Red’. Third album “Dog Eat Dog” shows their (Judas) Priest metal roots on ‘Machine Gun’, ‘The Hole in My Wall’, and ‘Inside Out’, ‘April 2031’ has a prog feel, upbeat rockers ‘Bonfire’ and ‘All My Bridges Are Burning’, to mature ballads ‘The Bitter Pill’ and what is one of their best compositions, ‘Quicksand’ which has perfect verses, chorus, melodies, harmonies, and reflecting guitar solos. Excellent front to back and an album which should be represented more live.

Slaughter – Fear No Evil: Out of the ashes of the Vinnie Vincent Invasion came Mark Slaughter (vocals) and Dana Strum, forming Slaughter. After a platinum and gold album; “Stick it To Ya”, and “The Wild Life”, six hit singles/videos, and ‘Shout It Out’ on the Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey soundtrack, Slaughter were ready to “Fear No Evil”. Problem was, it came out in 1995. Over the course of the twelve songs; ‘Live Like There's No Tomorrow’, ‘Get Use To it’, ‘Outta My Head’, ‘Unknown Destination’ are metal edged rockers, but you also see Slaughter tapping into their Beatles influence on ballads ‘It’ll Be Alright’ and ‘Yesterday’s Gone’, and exploring their talents in a moody/bluesy ‘Breakdown n Cry’.

Winger – Pull: Winger, sadly, became the whipping boys (because of Metallica) for the “Hair Metal” sound and style. But, if anyone actually listened with their ears, and not their eyes, or just judged the band off their hit MTV videos for songs like ‘Seventeen’ and ballads ‘Headed For A Heartbreak’ and ‘Miles Away’, you hear there was more to their music. This, all came to light on “Pull” in 1993, which maintains their sound, but is a harder album with more mature lyrics. ‘Blind Revolution Mad’ and ‘Junkyard Dog’ incorporate heavy metal riffing and progressive elements both clocking in over five minutes, to the acoustic ‘Who's the One’. Japanese bonus track ‘Hell to Pay’ throws some nice barbs at Metallica for their wrongful doings. Ten varied songs showing songwriting, musicianship, and dynamics, and an album that reflected where the band went with “IV” (2006), “Karma” (2009), and “Better Days Comin'” (2014).

Britny Fox – Bite Down Hard: 1991: It may not have the original singer from the first two albums, but it is their most consistent and hardest hitting album front to back, edgy and aggressive. The guitars are heavy and compliment Tommy Paris’ voice. Eight out of ten songs are metal edged LA Sunset Strip rockers. Even Zakk Wylde does some shredding on opener ‘Six Guns Loaded’.

Danger Danger – Cockroach: Recorded in 1993 with original singer Ted Poley (and without keyboardist Kasey Smith) who then left the band, replaced by Paul Laine, the album fell into legal turmoil and was not released (properly) until 2001. Very unfortunate to say the least because third time is definitely a charm. “Cockroach” maintains D2’s trademark melodic sound in both the music and vocals, but a harder album with more edge minus the keyboards. ‘Stick Kickin’ has a great kick with some funk, ‘Sick Little Twisted Mind’ got a great metal riff, and ‘Shot O' Love’ a great feel good rocker.

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