Man Raze was created when Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen met up with his former Girl bandmate Simon Laffy in 2004 and mentioned some songs he'd been working on. Phil then bumped into Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook and ensnared him into the project. They released their first single, "Skin Crawl," in late 2005 and saw it make the top 10 on the U.K. Rock Singles chart. They gave away their next single "Turn It Up" as a free download. Work on the album (at the Dublin home studio of Def Leppard vocalist Joe Elliott) has now birthed their debut album Surreal.
"This is the age of experience..." The opening lines of the first track, "This Is," gets to the point right away. These are music veterans that know what they are doing and all they require is for you to sit back and enjoy the ride. The songs are crisp, sharp and don't linger longer than necessary. The rhythm section is flawless, the guitars blaze and the vocals by Simon and Phil are passionate. Influences touching on ska, rock, blues, pop and garage abound without sounding like unabashed tributes. That can be heard on the opener which subtly evokes the Foo Fighters, "Turn It Up" has Def Leppard echoes and "Runnin' Me Up" feels like 311 covering the Police. Brilliant tracks surface shortly after like the driving "Every Second Of Everyday," the electric "Can't Find My Own Way," the scorching "Skin Crawl," the pleading "Low" and the anthematic "Halo" which are all single-worthy.
Surreal is a very appropriate album title. First impressions are always important. If there were one negative thing that could be said about the disc is that it is front-loaded with 3 tracks that make one wonder where it is heading and if the band have a sound of their own. That gets resolved quickly on the following song and the album really soars from there. Repeated listenings do lessen that early effect and make it more enjoyable. In fact, I believe it could be looked at as them shattering all preconceived expectations early so they can get to business. That aside, Surreal does answer the prayers of those fearing rock music's slow death. You can find Man Raze's tire marks among those on the roadkill that was that rock rumor. This creative and versatile album is sure to satisfy.
4 out of 5