The latest from Gary Cherone (Extreme, Van Halen) who has teamed up with his brother Markto write his most succinct record to date. The self-titled, HURTSMILE is a raw sonic suckerpunch in the face! From the opening buzz saw riff of “Just War Theory” to the epic finale of”Slave” and “Beyond The Garden/Kicking Against the Goads”, Gary continues to push andpoke you in the ear with his lyrically provocative themes.“Hurtsmile was a long time coming… I always wanted to write a record with my brother,” saysGary. “I’m a big fan of Mark’s song writing and his snarling guitar riffs.” The timing was right as Extreme was in-between their touring and record cycle, leaving Gary the freedom. Theyrecruited Joe Pessia (bass) an alumnus of Nuno Bettencourt’s Dramagods as well as the guitarplayer for Tantric. Joe also engineered, and co-produced the record with Gary.
To round off thelineup they enlisted heavy hitter Dana Spellman on drums “It’s an east coast-Boston thing,”states Gary. “Mark, my brother, was in a band with Nuno’s brother… Joe was in Nuno’s bandand Dana was a friend, and student of Mike Mangini (former Extreme drummer) … we like tokeep it in the family.”The lineup is not the only thing familiar with the band. In true Cherone fashion, the record ischock full of swaggering guitar, soaring vocals and the trademark Cherone eclecticism ontracks such as “Jesus Would You Meet Me”, the reggae-tinged “Just War Reprise” and theDylanesq “The Murder of Daniel Faulkner (4699)”. “Hurtsmile was about returning to myroots, writing a record in my basement, a straight up rock ‘n’ roll record… but it turned out tobe more diverse and ambitious than I expected.”Gary is no stranger to taking on intense topics, and Hurtsmile is no exception.
The first half of the record is a group of more loosely knit songs such as the cynically inquisitive “Just WarTheory”, the limit’s of free speech “Tolerance Song (edit)” and the disturbingly mesmerizing“Kaffur (Infidel)”, inspired by the beheading of Daniel Pearl.The 2nd half of the record is more conceptually cohesive; an introspective look at the nature ofman and the condition of the human heart. “Stillborn” introduced earlier, and “Set Me Free”both touch on mans inclination toward darkness, culminating with an epic journey from sin tosalvation… “Slave” to “Beyond the Garden/Kicking Against the Goads”.For the most part both themes are represented as 2 sides of a record. A concept familiar toExtreme fans but make no mistake, whether reading between the lines or just moved by thevisceral power of the music, this is a completely different type of record. Gary adds, “All theboys in the band have brought something new to the table, and you’ll never know what hit you!”
Just War Theory,Stillborn, Love Thy Neighbo, Kaffur (Infidel), Painter Paint, Tolerance Song, Set Me Free, Jesus Would You Meet Me, Slave, Beyond The Garden – Kicking Against The Goads, Just War Reprise, The Murder Of Daniel Faulkner (4699)
Gary Cherone – Vocals
Markus Cherone – Guitars
Joe Pessia – Bass, Mandolin
Dana Spellman – Drums, Percussion
Produced by Gary Cherone, Joe Pessia
“The End Begins” is an appropriate title for Tantric’s first album in four years. After recording the follow-up to 2004’s “After We Go” the band watched as the album was shelved and forgotten by Maverick Records. This eventually led to the three original members, Jesse Vest, Todd Whitener, and Matt Taul walking away leaving vocalist Hugo Ferreira to soldier on alone. Instead of fighting to get “Tantric III” released Ferreira decided to start fresh with new members Kevin Miller, formerly of Fuel, on drums, Erik Leonhardt on bass, Marcus Ratzenboeck on electric violin (???) and guitarist Joe Pessia, who had previously played in Dramagods with none other than Nuno Bettencourt and Kevin Figueiredo from Extreme.
Everything gets started with “Regret”, which sounds a like bit like “the Cult meets Cold” with the opening guitar and Ferreira’s vocal style. Joe Pessia may not have the worshippers of the Guitar Gods bowing at his feet, but he is able to pull off a nice solo and after a couple of listens you will find yourself tapping your feet and playing air drums on the steering wheel as you are driving down the road.
Next up is the lead off single and video “Down & Out”, I think the song stands much better by itself than with the video which is the way it is supposed to be. It took me a while to get into the song because it reminds me of the rap/rock days which I am not very fond of. Electric violinist, Marcus Ratzenboeck makes the most of his chance to stand in the rock n’ roll spotlight with a nice piece of playing throughout.
The third track “the One” was originally recorded for the afore mentioned Tantric III. Ferreira decided to recut the track as a duet with Candlebox’s Kevin Martin. Both singers go back and forth trading the lyrics which in my opinion works as “the One” is my favorite song on this album and it should be a big hit on Modern Rock Radio.
I was a little turned off by the jazz feel of “Love Song” but it picks up at the chorus after which I found myself able to get into it a little more. A few other songs I was able to get into were Wishing, Lucky One, Why Don’t You, and Lay.
Now “The End Begins” isn’t going to change the rock n’ roll world, but then again I can only think of a handful of bands or artists that have ever done that. What this release is going to give the fans of “post grunge” music and rock in general is a pretty solid performance from beginning to end. If you were a fan of Tantric before you will be a fan after hearing “the End Begins” if you weren’t a fan before, Ferreira and his boys might be able to open your ears with some nice musicianship throughout.
For more information on Tantric. Check out their myspace page.
Rating:Out of 10
2. Down And Out
3. The One (Clean)
4. Love Song
6. Something Better
7. Lucky One
8. The End Begins
9. Monopoly (Clean)
10. Why Don’t You
Hugo Ferreira – Vocals
Joe Pessia – Guitars
Erik Leonhardt – Bass
Kevin Miller – Drums
Marcus Ratzenboeck – Electric Violin
Reviewed by Rocknrollcoastie