Freakhouse - "Freakhouse" (CD)
"Freakhouse" track listing:
1. Living The Lie
2. Dead On The Inside
5. Motion Sickness
6. No Way Down
7. Pushing Away
9. Tommy's Revenge
12. Listen To The Voice
Reviewed by EdgeoftheWorld on December 4, 2009
It'd be easy to pop in Freakhouse's new CD and think you've heard it before — because in a way, you have. Oh sure, this Austin, Texas band's music has been featured on MTV, the UFC, and Fox Sports, so you might've heard some snippets of the band's songs there — but that's not what I'm talking about. The band's promotional materials spell it out best when they say "Fans of Three Days Grace, Papa Roach and Nickelback will love this CD." And well they should, because there's nothing here that departs from the formula laid out by those bands early in this decade.
The album begins with "Living The Lie," which features a slow-burn intro that for a moment reminds me a bit of Motley Crue's "Dr. Feelgood." Then Matt Clark's muscular guitar and Rob Escher's sung-and-shouted vocals take over. It's your average hard rock radio track, well-played, but hardly distinctive.
The single, "Dead On The Inside," has a nice grinding riff to complement the pop-tinged vocals. That said, by the end, it feels more than a bit like a naked attempt to attract the Hot Topic set.
"Stitches" starts out sounding way too much like "Dead On The Inside," but has Escher sounding quite a bit like the mid-range version of Axl Rose in parts. The next track, "Cold," is more generic rock.
"Motion Sickness" is one of those ambient spookiness tracks that Rob Zombie does so well, with random noises punctuating the subtle music. It's actually one of my favorite parts of the album, because it's creepy enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and because it's a welcome respite from all the down-tuned guitars and shouting. "No Way Down" is another of the album's better tracks, with some interesting guitar effects and a welcome injection of speed into the proceedings. It's also nice to have less of a big chorus.
The off-kilter piano-playing in "Tommy's Revenge" is another fun respite from the muscular grinding guitars, just enough off-tempo to be spooky. I also enjoy the southern-fried "Listen To The Voice," which has Scott Freak's bass prevalent in the mix.
Freakhouse saves the best for last, with the punky "Plowed" easily blowing everything else on the album out of the water. It's fast, full of energy, and fun.
As good as "Plowed" is, it's probably not worth wading through filler tracks like "Pushing Away," "Answer" and "Submit" to get to. It's not that these tracks are terrible, they're just not at all memorable in any way.
What maddens me most about Freakhouse's self-titled disc is that I keep trying to figure out if it's a barely-hit or near-miss. The band's publicists were probably right when they said "fans of Three Days Grace, Papa Roach and Nickelback will love this CD." I'm just not sure anyone else will.
Highs: "Plowed," "Listen To The Voice," and "Motion Sickness."
Lows: Too many filler tracks like "Answer," "Submit," and "Pushing Away."
Bottom line: A tolerable CD in the radio-rock mold of Papa Roach, but not a lot of originality here.
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