RUNNING WITH THE DOGS
Admit it: you've just about given up on England when it comes to producing quality rock 'n' roll. The land that brought us the Beatles, the Stones, Zeppelin, and of course the revered NWOBHM--in the past twenty-five years, what have they given us? The Wildhearts? Come on. The Darkness? Come the fuck on!
The Treatment are a five-piece band that hail from that benighted former bastion of rock supremacy. Their 2011 independent debut, This Might Hurt, caused enough of a buzz to earn them a support slot for Van Halen's European tour (while we Yankee pigs were stuck with Kool and the Gang). Now comes the band's second album, Running With The Dogs.
It's so easy to compare a band to AC/DC that it's become a cliche, but The Treatment do bear some resemblance to Angus and Co. Sort of. More accurately, they remind me of Airbourne, in the guitar tone and riffing style of Ben Brookland and Tagore Grey, and their overall energy and enthusiasm. But while Airbourne's singer Joel O'Keefe favors a Sam Kinison-like yell, the Treatment's Matt Jones offers highly melodic, harmonized vocals. He comes across as a mixture of Kelly Holland, the first singer from '90's classicists Cry of Love, and Robert Mason, currently of Warrant (and who was Cry of Love's second singer). It's this attention to tunefulness that sets Running With The Dogs apart from the sea of AC/DC clones, and even, to a degree, from the band's own debut. In the end, the combination reminds me of another classic-rock-obsessed British band: Thunder.
These last few years, as I've listened to one "savior of rock 'n' roll" after another, I've sometimes wondered, "where have all the hooks gone?" So many young bands strive for a retro-hard-rock sound. They tune the guitars up to E, put on some leather (and maybe some of their mom's makeup), and write some songs about chicks and partying--but they neglect about the hooks. You forget each song the minute the next one starts.
Again, The Treatment's sense of melody saves them, as songs like "Get The Party On," "Emergency," "She's Too Much," and the title track will have you humming and/or drumming on the desk all day long. The rockers are relentlessly uptemmpo, and while Jones wails away, the rhythm section of Dhani Mansworth and Rick Newman pound it out straight and simple on drums and bass. Guitarists Brookland and Grey give a B-12 shot to the old British blues-rock playbook, just by sheer volume and fervor. I really love that one extra-sleazy lick in "She's Too Much"--you'll know which one. But then, in the second half of the disc, the band throw out a pair of high-quality ballads in "Cloud Across The Sun" and "Unchain My World." The former, in particular, gives me sharp, gut-level flashbacks to the late hair-metal daze. This would've been all over MTV circa 1990, even while avoiding the great, quicksand-like pools of cheese that lurk around every corner in Balladland. The only really cheesy moments are on the album's first track, "I Bleed Rock 'n' Roll," which just tries a little too hard, and the silly, swampy intro to "The Outlaw."
PITRIFF RATING - 93/100 - I liked This Might Hurt, but didn't love it. Running With The Dogs is a big step forward. If you like no-frills, high-energy, blues-based hard rock that doesn't forget to be memorable (think Dirty Looks or earliest Tesla in addition to prior comparisons), this is the disc for you. There's also a deluxe edition available, with a bonus disc featuring some obscure English cover songs.