Hard Bargain (Self-Released)
By: Jeb Branin
Originally formed under the moniker CRISIS 20 years ago (changed because of other bands using the name), it is great to see these hard rocking kingpins still at it. This was one of the first bands to turn me onto underground extreme music and was the very first band I ever published an interview with (16 years ago in a long defunct Canadian zine). In a very real way it is their fault you are reading these words right now. HARD BARGAIN is the first full length offering from the band in several years and hopefully it will garner them the attention they have for so long deserved. The CD is a real mix of styles, reflecting not only the band's early heavy metal roots, but the seasoning and maturity that comes from plugging along as independent artists for two decades. Songs like the barnstorming opener "Independent" as well as "Dodged Another Bullet" and "It Isn't Easy Being Me" (great lyrics!) demonstrate that HARD BARGAIN can kick it out as hard and fast as ever. Jeff and Dan's guitars are blazing, Brett commits assault and battery on his drum kit, and Dane's rumbling bass is almost as powerful as his classic leather lunged vocals. Only slightly more reserved is "Blue Roses" a tune with more of a pure rock 'n roll flavor to it. It was songs like these that garnered them their first record contract in the early eighties and led to features in such noted publications as England's "Metal Forces". There is, however, a Dr. Jekyll to their metallic Mr. Hyde and it can be found in acoustic tunes like "Driving Rain", "My Girl", "Kicked Around" and the atypical yet tremendous "Guava And Palmetto" a delicate song that could fit comfortably into the rotation on an adult contemporary station. It isn't often a hard hitting band can dig down deep enough to create a tune that is best described as "beautiful" but HARD BARGAIN are not your average band and are not about to do anything mundane or expected. The CD is rounded out with an instrumental number that is quirky and fun called "Sheraza" as well as a less effective song, "Living A Dream" a rocker that is probably the first thing the band has ever done that I don't like. It is just too cheesy for me, especially the lyrics. Only the dual guitar solo in the middle manages to keep the tune from being a complete bust. Any fan of guitar driven rock, be it mellow or hard is going to connect to this disc. You might as well order it now so you can lord it over your friends that you were the first to score this HARD BARGAIN.
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