Solo albums by established guitarists, especially when they use multiple vocalists, can be very risky. The debut album by Red Dragon Cartel was a perfect example of where the music absolutely rocks but the variety of vocals didn’t help create a cohesive album. When I heard that German guitarist Vince Voltage (Pussy Sisster, Ex Wife’s Skull and Apathy) was finally doing a solo album, but didn’t have an established vocalist, I was concerned that the same may happen.
Hard Rock Survivor by Vince Voltage (Debut solo studio album, Independent release)
Produced by: Vince Voltage
When I first heard the opening track “Hard Rock Survivor” the opening seconds screamed Motley Crue’s “Live Wire”. I figured I accidentally went to the wrong song on the iPod. This anthem style track is hard driving rock that meshes Lemmy-esque vocals with a classic Mick Mars type guitar riff. The chanting type chorus will go over well live.
“Billy The Kid” has a dirtier rock groove. The vocal melody and music reminded me of L.A. Guns. The drumming on this track is unbelievable and matches the level of masters like Mike Portnoy. The song is under 3 minutes long and left me wanting more.
Another Sunset Strip style rocker “Some Like It Ugly” reminded me of the sleaze rock heyday. This 80’s MTV friendly tune would’ve been an instant hit on rock radio.
My 3 least favorite tracks on the album: “Busty Sandy”, “Cry Out Till Midnight” and “Lick It If You Like It” all have the same issue. Love the song titles, the musicianship rocks, the riffs are crunchy awesome but the vocal melodies are not catchy or memorable enough for melodic hard rock.
I love ballads. The 3 on this album are AWESOME!!! “Something To Believe In” (no…not the Poison song) has everything you would want a melodic hard rock power ballad to have. Vince does a magnificent job of keeping the riff simple to not distract the listener from the soothing vocal while including a perfect solo. “The Ballad of Ricky Razor” is very reminiscent of the “18 and Life” Skid Row track. The character is even named Ricky! “18 and Life” has more punch but this track is good too. “Killing Times” starts with a beautiful piano melody and builds to a more modern rock power ballad.
Keyboards are more prominent in the mix of the final track “Broken”. The vocal melody in the verses works but the pre-chorus/chorus melody is a bit lacking. I would’ve closed the album with “Some Like It Ugly” instead.
Additional musicians on the album include: Denis Hubner (vocals), Bronco “the Ballcrusher” Malone (vocals), Marcus Jurgens (vocals), Sven Gallinsky (bass, keyboards), Torsten Sauerbrey (drums), Randy “Raw Power” Vintage (additional guitars), Ralf Stoney (additional guitars), Sebastian Dracu (additional guitars) and Lick Fury (additional guitars).
Overall: The album absolutely has some highlights. Vince has an unmistakable knack for melodic hard rock riffs and solos. The ballads are awesome! But, as stated at the beginning of the post, the continuity of the album is hampered by having multiple vocalists. Hard Rock Survivor is worth checking out but temper your expectations.
Thanks for reading. Pooni out!