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Hotel Diablo - "The Return to Psycho, California" (CD)

Hotel Diablo - "The Return to Psycho, California" CD cover image

"The Return to Psycho, California" track listing:

1. Taken
2. All These Years
3. What You Do To Me
4. Psycho California
5. Bury You
6. Set It Off
7. Wicked Lines
8. Wonderwall
9. Trigger
10. What You Do To Me (Alternate Version)
11. Bury You (Alternate Version)

Reviewed by on May 14, 2013

"When Hotel Diablo stays plugged in, the results are some electrifying hard rock on 'The Return To Psycho, California.'"

Given that this album is produced by Gilby Clarke, and that a couple of the band members had just come off a tour with Steven Adler, it's little wonder that Hotel Diablo's full-length debut, "The Return To Psycho, California" has a decidedly Guns 'N Roses feel to it. Slick, sleazy and full of Sunset Strippers, this is an excellent throwback to the days when the hair was big and the riffs even bigger.

The title track alone is worth the price of admission, driven by a sleazy blues riff from Alex Grossi that Slash wishes he'd written and an excellent vocal performance by Rick Stitch. It's the kind of tune that's meant for cranking up with the windows down.

"Set It Off," with its groovy rhythms by Mike Duda and Mike Dupke, is another highlight, with Grossi's wah-wah-infused guitar line adding to the fun. And yeah, Stitch and crew "set this fucker off" indeed.

Any band that hews this close to those Sunset Strip sounds of the '80s is going to engage in a little power balladry, and there's plenty of that here. The best of the ballads is "Wicked Lines," which admittedly morphs into something tougher in the middle. Less impressive are "Bury You" and "What You Do To Me" — and unfortunately each of those tracks appear twice on the album. I'm not a huge fan of sticking alternate versions of songs on an album — and here, they seem to be put there for the express purpose of padding the runtime. The "alternate" version of "What You Do To Me" is the better of the two, for what that's worth.

The cover of Oasis' "Wonderwall" is also a little dodgy. Granted, there are a few differences between it and the original, but it still feels out of place here.

When Hotel Diablo stays plugged in, the results are some electrifying hard rock on "The Return To Psycho, California." The ballads, though, are a mixed bag, and the alternate versions aren't different enough to merit their inclusion.

Highs: "Set It Off," the title track, "Return to Psycho, California" and "Wicked Lines"

Lows: The Oasis cover, "Wonderwall," and the decision to include two alternate versions of a pair of songs.

Bottom line: The ballads get a little too much play, but when the band stays plugged in, there's some electric Sunset Strip-style rock.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)