BulletBoys singer Marq Torien has a huge fan. Himself. Just ask him. And I don’t mind telling ya there are few things in life I enjoy as much as a Marq Torien interview. There is a fine line between bravado and bullshit and Marq likes spend time on both sides of that line. I mean, who loses the gig as Ozzy’s guitarist for being too young? Anyway. Towards the end of the 90’s and early 2000’s BulletBoys seemed to be a disaster story born to keep the message boards on Metal Sludge active. From the ever revolving door of members to Marq channeling Pinocchio during interviews. Bad blood between him and the rest of the band. Any band. But here’s the thing. It just seemed so mean.
I’m not saying he wasn’t his own worst enemy. And I read most of the stuff Metal Sludge posted and while I can see the points they were making it just seemed personal. I mean, what did he really do? Exagerate his self-importance? He may embellish things from time to time but what’s the alternative? Blunt acceptance? Is that what we want from our rock stars. When we go to see a former arena band playing at your local bar do we want them to act like they are playing a bar? Does he really need to tell you why Mick and Jimmy hate him? While that actually sounds like something I’d like to hear I have no interest in piling on.
With the BulletBoys I checked out when I heard Za-Za. And if it weren’t for Metal Sludge I would’ve never known about the records Sophie, 10 Cent Millionaire and such. And hearing about those records only seemed to cement the idea of a former Rock God off the rails. A modern day Emporer in the same old clothes. Even now the band’s bio is an oral Trojan Horse that leads one to think the band has only had a couple of former members. And just because I don’t kick a man when he’s down doesn’t mean I won’t chuckle when he trips on the curb. So last summer I had my first chance to see whatever constituted the BulletBoys on that day play a bar in my neck of the woods. And while I truly dig the first record and some of Freakshow, I was expecting and sadly hoping for a disaster. I was sure I’d see a band unrehearsed play more songs from the last decade than songs people might actually know. I expected to see a past his prime Marq Torien garble his way to 3 digit payday. But what I got was a “Fuck you Bakko”, kick ass rock ‘n’ roll show featuring mostly songs off the first two records by a band that was tighter than Beyonce’s yoga pants.
Which brings us to BulletBoys Elefante. Had I not seen them a year ago I doubt I’d even bother to listen to this. And while I was blown away by the band I saw last summer, nothing I saw lead me to believe they were capable of new music worth a shit. So if you’re asking me: “Bakko, is the new record worth a shit?”
Why yes. Yes it is.
Which kind of sucks for two reasons. One. My comfort zone is the cheap shot. It’s easier to review a record I hate. But secondly, and much more importantly, this record’s fate has nothing to do with how good or bad it is. It’s pretty much guaranteed to be an afterthought. At best. Which is a crime against rock and rock induced boners because this is a great record. It’s already my second favorite BulletBoys record and who knows what a few more listens will do. While it does seem rock is starting a bit of a comeback nobody is buying anything anymore. And if MTV still played videos there’s no chance a band like BulletBoys would be featured. Same with radio. Rock radio will ignore this as they do with new music from any artist whose career started before 1998. That one hard drive in Silicon Valley supplying every hard rock station in America with their on air music will never clear space for anything off this record. And that sucks because this is a record that should be heard. But I’ve just been informed I can’t do anything about that so let’s talk about the record.
If you’re gonna go, go big. Which they did with the song “Rollover.” It starts with a guitar riff reminiscent of Marilyn Manson’s version of “Sweet Dreams”, then uses that effect where it sounds like you’re under water and then surface that was popularized in the late 90’s for the intro drums, and then kicks into the song full on. And it sounds great. It’s sounds so good I’m wondering if this is truly on Cleopatra Records, or truly the BulletBoys. The next song “Tsunami” is another straight up rock song. And after that is “Symphony” which is just a great fucking song. Somebody’s been listening to the Foo Fighters. Not what you’d expect from the BulletBoys, but considering what I expected that’s probably a good thing.
The next song is another oddball. Maybe trying too hard for that Modern Rock sound. At one point it reminds me of Rob Halfords short lived project Two. Again. I don’t mind telling ya, I like the song. By the time I get to the song “Saving You From Me” I find I’m running out of synonym’s for AWESOME. Marq mentioned the pain of a divorce fueled some of this record and I’m gonna guess this song is part of the cathartic process we can get from music. I’ve been happily married for over a decade and yet I instantly related to the lyrics. I am almost depressed after hearing it. And I find myself in a state of disbelief. I really can’t believe how good this record is. This isn’t good for BulletBoys good, this is good because it’s good. Even their cover of Elton John’s “Bitch Is Back” is cool. And I hate covers. Typically a waste of time used to fill it, but this sounds different enough without totally destructing it. Plus it sounds good cranked. Makes your ass move.
I love this record. And while it sounds like the BulletBoys it doesn’t sound like a band chasing it’s past. There are no attempts to re-animate the corpse of “Smooth Up” or “Hard As A Rock”. If anything this is a record by a band not clinging to it’s past while also not running from it. Not trying to remind us rubes that they were once on MTV. There are no songs about groupies or parties. No stripper anthems. Too often bands into their second or third decade think they need to stay in the mindset of when they were twenty. Marq Torien couldn’t write “Smooth Up” today and it’s refreshing that he didn’t try. Two things about Elefante’ stand out. Marq’s voice and the song writing. Both come through large. Some of the production may not be the most unique but when the songs are this good it doesn’t matter. Marq’s voice may sound a little older but it’s still strong and he delivers a solid performance on Elefante’. And while the production may not be ground breaking it is good.
Like it or not BulletBoys is Marq Torien. Say what you want about him he has had more reason to quit than to carry on. Yet here he is, still rollin’. You can’t imagine how depressing a member leaving a band can be. And the mass exodus he’s endured more than once had to be difficult to overcome from an emotional standpoint. He may have wronged some people over the years or acted the fool on stage at times. I don’t know. All I can say is I met the man and he couldn’t have been cooler. Marq is a rock ‘n’ roll survivor and putting out a product this strong, he may just be key to saving it.
BUY THIS RECORD Using the Amazon link on the front page of course.