Saturday, June 10, 2023

Extreme "SIX" Album Review


Extreme are back and better than ever in 2023 with their long awaited new album "SIX". It's been 15 years since the last album, 2008's Saudades de Rock. 2008 was a great year. It was a year that my show Cameron's Playhouse started, after all. Is the new Extreme album a continuation of the straight up gritty rock & roll formula we got from them 15 years ago, or is it something completely new and different?

SIX feels like an album that is and isn't an Extreme record. The band are going through a bold new direction here with still the same classic sound they are known for. Crazy guitar solos from Nuno Bettencourt, heavy bass from Pat Badger, powerful vocals from Gary Cherone and hard hitting drums from Kevin Figueiredo. 

The album starts off with a stadium belting opener called Rise which sounds something straight off 1992's Pornograffitti. However you won't find any of the famous rap-rock vocals Extreme were once known for on this album. Gary is singing his absolute balls off, making the last album feel like it had just come out yesterday.

Rise features an absolutely crazy guitar solo from Nuno Bettencourt, who is known for his crazy solos. But this one is just absolute madness. Think of the Get The Funk Out solo but on steroids. What a great way to open the album!

#Rebel  is an absolute banger. Gary is once again in fine form and the whole band sounds tight. The riffs are chunky and super heavy. This is not like the Extreme of the old, but the Extreme of the new. This song is a more metal version of the band we've heard so far, and it's only track 2! 
Next up is probably my favourite song on the album, Banshee. It has just such a great groove and hook to the rhythm & vocals. They're on fire at this point. Everyone is still in fine form. These songs would work really well live. I'm hoping they play them on the upcoming tour, which is expected to kick off in August this year. 
Track 4 is Other Side Of The Rainbow. Although it's more of an acoustic number than the past 3 tracks, it sounds like classic Extreme right out from the 90's. Nuno seems to love his ballads (I blame 'More Than Words' for that). But Other Side Of The Rainbow feels right at home on this album.
Things continue with the acoustic trend for a bit on the song Small Town Beautiful. I personally didn't enjoy it as much as Other Side Of The Rainbow. I found it a bit too radio friendly. There's not much going on here, but I should listen to it again. Maybe it would grow on me.
The Mask gets back to the much welcome rockier material Extreme are known for. It has a great groove and rhythm section. A nice bass line too, and although the lyrics feel a bit cringe and commercial, I think the song's direction saves it from being a total disaster. It's not terrible. It has a good and enjoyable couple of solos in it too. 
Things start to get a bit strange on the number Thicker Than Blood. Although it's quite a heavy track, it sounds Industrial with a mixture of trance keyboards, unusual for an Extreme album. It's techno-like feel is very out of place. But I did enjoy the song as the lyrics are good and provide much meaning.
Save Me as the title implies, saves this album once again for going back to being a great rock track with big drums and powerful vocal hooks. It also has a really great stadium feel to it, similar to Rise.
Hurricane is yet another  acoustic ballad, but here it works quite well. It is dedicated to Nuno's friend John Martins. Unlike Small Town Beautiful, this track actually has better meaning and solos. I also liked the vocal harmony. 
X Out is by far the most unusual track on the album. Synthesizers return once again and most of it is played over trance keyboards. Guitars are mostly minimized and it's just them wailing over something. It was going on for a while and I was starting to freak out at how strange this song was for an Extreme album, this song sounded like it would have fitted on Van Halen 3 perfectly. It's just that out of place. But then in the middle for some reason there's a really great guitar solo from Nuno which kind of saved that track. But there is a large amount of techno and trance effects on here which is really weird. I don't know about this one. I'd have to listen to it a few more times to appreciate this song.. I don't know if it's a concept track or something but it was just real bizarre. 
However, the album gets saved once again for the track Beautiful Girls - which sounds just like a classic Extreme song from the 1980's. With Gary's cheeky vocals, and a pop-rock guitar tone, mixed with a great vibe and groove. This is what Extreme are known for. It's as if the song is trying to say 'Hey, remember us?' It was a fun track. I know it's kind of acoustic again, but the saving grace is the nostalgic feel and electric solo from Nuno.
Last, but not least is probably my favourite song on the album, Here's To The Losers. Another cheeky twist on this album that reminds me of their late 80's and early 90's material. It's fun.  A kind of  'fuck you' to anyone who has called any of us losers.'.
While SIX may not be the full rock or metal shebang a lot of fans were expecting, there are still many great sounding tracks on here. Despite there being at least 4 acoustic numbers , one a bit too many, the different styles of music and their writing & performances show that each track is individual and different. And while the techno styles are a bit questionable, they are trying new things that somehow still seem to work. This is not the same Extreme you would remember from a decade or so ago. This is new Extreme, with a fresh new twist. And I like it. There is something for everyone in this bold new direction.
Extreme SIX is out now, on CD via Edel.
01. Rise
02. #Rebel
03. Banshee
04. Other Side Of The Rainbow
05. Small Town Beautiful
06. The Mask
07. Thicker Than Blood
08. Save Me
09. Hurricane
10. X OUT
11. Beautiful Girls
12. Here's To The Losers

Extreme are:

Gary Cherone - Vocals

Nuno Bettencourt - Guitar

Pat Badger - Bass

Kevin Figueiredo - Drums

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