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Eleven Seven Music (2006)
Rating: 8.5/10

I will openly admit that I’m not a fan of much modern metal, let alone what became known as “nu-metal”, but if there’s one band that shake my foundations it’s Buckcherry. Having grown up in the 80s, metal at the time was so rewarding, and while there were thousands of bands around, many who existed on imagery over substance, it was an exciting time. Nowadays, I don’t expect anything dramatic to happen within the metal sub-genres as it’s all been done before.

What I’ve always liked about Buckcherry is that they don’t pretend to be something they are not. Buckcherry play dirty, hard-edged rock ’n’ roll and are fronted by the mercurial and heavily inked Josh Todd, whose distinctive rasp can scrape wallpaper. Ever since their 1999 self-titled debut the Los Angeles-based band have hit the highs and the lows, but 15 was the big one, an album that not only slapped us in the face with its gnarly attitude, but yet somehow kept rock ’n’ roll on the map by spawning a couple of great singles.

Buckcherry 2006 is a solid five-piece driven by the raging lead guitar of Keith Nelson, whose greasy brand of mayhem mixes that classic AC/DC boogie with a glam rock strut. Nelson is accompanied by rhythm king Stevie Dacanay, drum lord Xavier Muriel, and chief bass shaker Jimmy Ashurst, and together they make a sleazy noise that’ll have you gyrating ’til kingdom come.

It’s no wonder 15 eventually went on to sell over 1,000,000 copies Stateside, and they deserved more because there are some mini-classics on this opus. First off, is the grinding, pulsating ‘So Far’ with its kick ass chorus and sexy stomp, where Josh Todd barks and snaps at the speakers. But the band ups the ante big time on follower ‘Next 2 You’, a classy piece of rock ’n’ roll with an infectious chorus that melts into the more sultry ‘Out Of Line’, which features a killer hook and vocal melody you’ll be sure you’ve heard somewhere before.

Buckcherry have an uncanny ability to write hits, but still keep the venom flying. Josh Todd is not afraid to outrage the censors, the finest example being the album’s lead track, ‘Crazy Bitch’, which is, as you can imagine, for dance floors everywhere; if only it had gotten the radio play it deserved. It’s a monster of a track that cavorts and spins like an epileptic pole-dancer, boosted by that crazy riff and thudding drum that shakes the brain. The song exudes funk and fury at once, and you’ll be humming this all the way to the bedroom.

Mind you, 15 isn’t all hell-bent for leather. The band can write a classic ballad too, and there’s a couple. ‘Everything’ skips in on a simple heartbeat of a drum and breezy guitar before building to a crescendo of a chorus that digs in deep. And just when you thought this record can’t get any better we’re treated to the delightful sway of ‘Carousel’, where Todd really shines. This one is most certainly for the ladies with that “Baby, you still drive me crazy” line; pure magic. And yet when you least expect, Buckcherry send out the ultimate ballad, the elegant and anthemic ‘Sorry’. It’s the kind of track that still gives you hope in metal, the kind of song that has a timeless feel and yet nods with respect to those hair metal ballads of decades gone by.

It seems only natural that the rest of the album should pale in comparison to this staggering mid-section. ‘Onset’ has a punky edge, but for me it’s a little too close to the bubblegum style of Green Day, yet once again the band comes up with a killer chorus. Although ‘Sunshine’, ‘Brooklyn’ and ‘Broken Glass’ are sturdy numbers, they drift by within the shadow of what has already gone before. ‘Brooklyn’ is the least venomous of the three, existing as a bouncy twanging knees up, while closer ‘Broken Glass’ is more of a full-throttle rocker. But time and time again you’ll find yourself gagging for that mid-section which for me boasts some of the best songs I’ve heard within the last 20 years in any genre.

God bless their sleazy socks, Buckcherry rock big time.

Neil Arnold