Retro has become in these days, and there are more and more bands creeping up that have harkened their sound back to a time that left well over 30 years ago. The last 2 years have seen an influx of bands reaching back to the '70s. Bands like Blues Pills, Vista Chino, Scorpion Child and Rival Sons have all emerged with killer throwback vibes that are impressive. There's been a few bands that have come forward a little bit to the '80s, and have had varying success with that. So along comes Unbreakable; a band produced by Scorpions' legend Herman Rarebell that seemingly listened to a lot of '80s metal along the way. While I will say they are interesting, there's just something not fully clicking with this band. It's hard to put my finger on it, but there's just something not quite there.
This is not to say that these guys aren't proficient. Vocalist Al Crespo has a good, clean voice that is somewhat of a mix of Little Angels' Toby Jepsen and Stryper's Michael Sweet. This guy can sing, but he's a bit sterile in his presentation. He's best served on songs like "In Your Heart"; a ballad where you really can hear his throwback style that would please any Dokken fan as his phrasing works the way songs like "Alone Again" did for Don Dokken another lifetime ago. Crespo is balanced out by capable players. Guitarists Martin Ries and Pascal Alles are competent, old school sounding players. They are solid, but they need to be turned up in the mix and given a more dominant role in the mix. They are a bit subdued, which really never lets songs like "Good Times" act as the anthems they should be. Drummer Alex Ries and bassist Luke Mittler lay down a simple and steady foundation on each song, although they are anything but noticeable throughout. The drumming is mixed well, but it's so basic here that both Lars Ulrich and I could play it without any real issues.
The weakness to this band is definitely in the songwriting, and specifically in the lyrics. This style has been dead for far too long, and really wasn't good when it was happening the first time. Unbreakable write lyrics that are very sing-song like and rhyme driven from line to line. Listening to songs like "Back To The Roots", you get overwhelmed by the repetitive nature of the chorus, and spend most of the time trying to figure out what word the next line will rhyme with instead of just enjoying the song. Then there's songs like "Crazy Cat Lady". Is a description of why that's just not a good idea really necessary? "Welcome to the game of life / I want to touch your inner light / I'm gonna make you feel alright" - this comes from the chorus of "Game Of Life". I know this because it's repeated several times throughout the song, and it's just cheesy bad writing.
PITRIFF RATING - 55/100 - The weird thing is that for all the criticisms, I think this could be an enjoyable band with some tweaks and an outside songwriter. That said though, KNOCKOUT is just lacking in a lot of places. After a few listens, there's not anything on this that sucks, but there's really not much memorable either.