Rarely, if ever does the sequel compare to the original (with the exception of The Empire Strikes Back of course!), look at Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II for example (although sad that we lost Harold Ramis, recently I have to pose the question: Does this make him the enemy now?).
When I discovered UK’s The Treatment early on in my career with Decibel Geek and their first effort This Might Hurt I was thrilled with this new band and the youth, energy and swagger that they exhibited. I was able to conduct an email interview with vocalist Matt Jones (Go See The Doctor-An Interview With The Treatment) and see them perform live as a part of The Tour with Motley Crue and KISS, they did not let me down. (The Tour Rocks Toronto-Meister’s Story)
After an EP, Then & Again in March 2013, they have issued their sophomore effort Running With the Dogs in February 2014 and I sadly report that it’s a bit of a Ghostbusters II, certainly not an Empire Strikes Back. Although it is growing on me with more listens I feel it doesn’t hold a candle to the initial effort.
Running With the Dogs (Deluxe Edition) comes in a two-CD package, the first containing 13 tracks, the second with six. It appears that guitarist Ben Brookland has stepped down, making way for newcomer Jake Pattinson and aside from that the roster remains the same as the This Might Hurt debut offering. We start off with “I Bleed Rock & Roll” and it’s a strong start reminiscent of the previous work. “Drop Like A Stone” sounds much the same, rocking along in a similar vein as the opener and is followed by “Get the Party On”. “Get the Party On” was not new to me as the boys (they are all quite young in age) had played it at the Toronto Motley Crue/KISS show and it’s a standard rocker even if it’s a little juvenile lyrically. The title track, “Running With the Dogs” slides in next and seems constricted or held back. The intro to “Outlaw” will have you conjuring up images of the wild west before opening up into what may be the best of the lot here. “Emergency” starts off well with a very AC/DC-ish vibe to it, but loses it’s lustre in the bridge and chorus. I don’t recall any harmonic vocal choruses in This Might Hurt and I don’t think it works well here at all. “She’s Too Much” is also rather mediocre and forgettable, but “Cloud Across the Sun” just sounds like Beatles-ish wishy-washy tripe and don’t get me wrong, I love the Beatles but this just isn’t there! “Don’t Look Down” is more like I was expecting from The Treatment, having the feel and sound of wild reckless youth whereas the rest so far seems to be more contained and subdued, perhaps maturity setting in? “World On Fire” was also showcased at the Toronto show and is decent while the chorus for “What Is There To Say” is quite catchy. “Unchain the World” is another ballad that completely misses the mark. Stop trying to show your tenderness and get back to the untamed rock that you did so well on the debut. Running With the Dogs CD #1 shuts down on a good note with “Don’t Get Mad Get Evil”. CD #2 contains mostly cover versions, showing their 70’s influences and leads off with “The Seeker” a decent cover of The Who‘s classic track. Dr. Feelgood‘s 1975 song “She Does It Right” is on deck next and this band has been a big influence on The Treatment. “No Matter What” pays a tribute to Badfinger while “In My Chair” updates Status Quo‘s 1970 classic. The final two tracks are acoustic versions of “Running With the Dogs” and “I Bleed Rock & Roll”.
Perhaps if they took the highlights from both CD’s and had instead issued one album containing ten or eleven tracks it would be a much better listen and closer to par with their revered debut issue. As I said it does grow on me with each listen, especially once you cut out the weaker tunes in a playlist, but certainly it will not achieve the airplay around my house that This Might Hurt still enjoys today. In any case, it’s great to see the youth influenced by 70’s and 80’s hard rock and carrying that torch in today’s marketplace.