Normally when I am asked to review a record, there is a fair amount of research I like to put into making sure I’m familiar with the artist and the record I am reviewing. Mark Slaughter is an artist I already knew a lot about going back to the Vinnie Vincent Invasion days and consistently following him throughout his career. Am I a fan? Given my previous statements, yes; but I will also add I have not loved every last thing that Mark has turned out, albeit, that is by far in the minority.
When I got the chance to review the latest album from Mark Slaughter, EMP Records’ release of Halfway There, I was curious, because I somehow missed his last solo effort from 2014, Reflections in a Rear View Mirror, so I hadn’t heard anything new by Mark since 1999’s Back To Reality.
What caught my eye first was the album art done by legendary Horror/Comic/Music artist “Mister” Sam Shearon, known for his work with KISS, Clive Barker, Iron Maiden, Rob Zombie, and more.
The lead track “Hey You” kicks off with a driving riff that would fit nicely on Wildlife without sounding dated. The album moves smoothly into “Devoted” which is a heavier, slightly darker sounding tune, before moving to “Supernatural,” a melodic catchy rock song which has always been a staple of the Slaughter sound. As a solo artist, it is apparent that this is a very personal album that Mark Slaughter has taken careful time in laying out. This shows too on the title track of “Halfway There,” which is a well-written ballad filled with personal emotion. It is important to note this album has great guitar work throughout which is well-crafted to complement the songs. I mention this because it is brought to you by none other than Mark Slaughter himself. Some people are unaware that before Mark was known as a lead singer, he was a shredding guitar player on the radar of Mike Varney who was known for finding the next big guitar heroes in the 80’s.
Make no mistake about it, Mark Slaughter has created a rock record that is very well textured with a variety of sounds from melodic rockers “Supernatural” and “Turn It,” to heavier, darker songs like “Devoted,” “Reckless,” and “Conspiracy,” and meaningful ballads like “Halfway There” and “Not Here.” I am pretty sure I even hear the use of a Mellotron (a type of keyboard used on several tracks by the Beatles and others) on “Disposable.”
This is a record that needs to be heard front to back. It is a complete album and not one that is meant to be heard in a single dose. I spent some time with this record and the more I listened to it, the more I picked up on some of the intricacies that make up this piece of musical art.
I like the record and I think you will too, so go pick it up. As is always the case with my reviews, no matter your personal taste, go and support live and recorded rock and roll music.
Steven Michael @growinguprock