BLACKRAIN - UNTAMED  (Steamhammer / SPV, 2022)

"... We love the powerful sound, the banging drums, this awesome mix of catchy melodies and aggression...". If you like acts like MÖTLEY CRÜE, W.A.S.P or old BON JOVI you will love this album! Highly recommended!

Genre: Glam/Street/Hard Rock
Rating: 8,5/10

French BLACKRAIN grew up to the sounds of W.A.S.P, Bon Jovi, Skid Row and Motley Crue and with their new seventh album "Untamed" , they managed to mix all the ingredients with the right doses creating a great recipe: great singles, anthemic choruses, powerful sound, tasteful solos,a great cover and the right attitude. In short, this time there are all the credentials to break through, to take the big leap and finally be able to sit at the table of the great masters of Hard Rock.
The title track UNTAMED, SET THE WORLD ON FIRE and RAISE YOUR GLASS are pure Street Rock, dirty and sweaty bastard daughters of W.A.S.P and early BUCKCHERRY, while the super catchy SUMMER JESUS with a sumptuous  gait and a chorus to sing at the top of your lungs would not have looked out of place on an early SKID ROW album and will surely make fans happy in the live setting. KISS THE SKY is unquestionably a top song, characterized by a solemn pacing and a masterful chorus behind which the more inspired DEF LEPPARD peep out. The ghost of  BON JOVI's golden-era can be seen hovering over the enthralling BLADE OF LOVE, while with the radio-friendly and bubbly DEMON and NEON DRIFT the BLACKRAIN hit the jackpot again by giving us two catchy and unabashedly infectious songs that will stick in your head and that you will find yourself humming from the first listen. ALL THE DARKNESS is an addictive and touching ride that comes close to touching the boundaries of Scandinavian Melodic Hard Rock, this is a track that could easily have been written by ECLIPSE or HEAT, while SHUT DOWN is a little gem, "... you're messing on my mind and you're fucking with my brain...," a track perfectly in line with the sound of Scandinavian New Glam/Sleaze that brings to mind the street  atmospheres of HARDCORE SUPERSTAR and THE CRUEL INTENTIONS. The closing of the album is entrusted to the excellent THE END, a classic power ballad that respects all the canons of the genre, without  however coming across as trite or cheesy… a song emotionally charged, sumptuous and melodic, a truly fitting album closure. Listening to the album flows pleasantly from beginning to end, the track-list is dynamic and well-structured and the sound (the production was entrusted to Hannes Braun, singer of KISSIN' DYNAMITE), is at the same time powerful and crystal clear: each instrument is clearly distinguishable, the rhythms parts are powerful but not invasive, the melodies of choruses and guitars are always in the foreground and the scratchy voice of SWAN HELLION is increasingly valued  and is now the defining element of BLACKRAIN's sound. UNTAMED is an overbearing candidate to be among the best albums in the genre for this 2022, but unfortunately ... some small flaw had to be found and for this reason I do not feel like awarding it top marks although I repeat it is absolutely a "TOP ALBUM" ! The two doubts that keep running through my mind after listening to it really many times are the following...:
the first concerns the production: the keyboards on KISS THE SKY and on the finale of NEON DRIFT , the excessive 'modernist touches' of SUMMER JESUS or the very radio-friendly production of tracks like DEMON and NEON DRIFT go to clash against the 'raw and dirty' spirit of tracks like RAISE YOUR GLASS, SHUT DOWN or the title-track UNTAMED . The advice is to choose a path and stick to it. Either open up completely to a more complex production and definitely incorporate a softer and richer sound even if a bit more artificial… or stay true to the old Street /Sleaze Rock, authentic and without too many frills. But a ' middle path' can be confusing and can also be a dangerous road to go down from a marketing point of view.
The second doubt concerns precisely the voice of SWAN HELLION, which I repeat is by now a distinctive and characterizing element for this band, but which in some moments should be guided better: for example in songs like NEON DRIFT , UNTAMED or RAISE YOUR GLASS, the excessive search for the high note or falsetto result a bit forced and disconnected from the rest of the song ... it is a perfect voice when it works within the economy of the song, without unnecessary virtuosity that only risks being counterproductive.
Having said that there is little else to add: a record of the highest level, without a shadow of a doubt highly recommended both to fans of '80s Hard Rock and to lovers of Scandinavian New Sleaze / Glam: BLACKRAIN album after album continue their growth, raising the bar more and more and giving us another record that never bores, with a fresh and multifaceted song-writing and a killer rhythm from start to finish: a series of engaging and dazzling songs that will delight those who have waited for them with so much hope. Congratulations!



- Tracklisting:

01. Untamed 4:45
02. Kiss The Sky 4:06
03. Dawn Of Hell 3:51
04. All The Darkness 4:11
05. Demon 4:23
06. Summer Jesus 4:36
07. Set The World On Fire 4:27
08. Neon Drift 4:52
09. Blade Of Love 4:49
10. Raise Your Glass 4:46
11. Shut Down 4:43
12. The End 4:15


- Line-Up:

Swan Hellion – vocals, guitar
Max 2 – lead guitar
Matthieu de la Roche – bass
Frank F - drums


Article by: Mike Matty