The ’59 Sound
Bands that can be described as “retro” or
“throwback” usually have one thing in common.
That thing, of course, is that their re-do of the
original is never as good as the original itself.
In fact, most often it’s not even close.
The Gaslight Anthem is one of the few bands
that does not fall into this category. Their music
meshes late ‘70s Bruce Springsteen with an
upbeat punk energy. The ‘59 Sound offers twelve
tracks, all of which stand up as some of the best
new rock in recent memory.
The focal point of The Gaslight Anthem is
undeniably the vocal delivery of frontman Brian
Fallon. Fallon sounds like a mash-up of Born to
Run-era Springsteen and English folk punk icon
Billy Bragg. The lyrical storytelling of Fallon
sits atop a foundation of solid punk-oriented
drumming and jangly guitars. Second guitarist
Alex Rosamilia adds in leads that bring to mind
many modern post-hardcore bands and serves
to give the band a truly unique element to
“Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” displays the
band’s knack for catchy blues riffs, while “The
Patient Ferris Wheel” sees the band laying down
great rock hooks. Standout track “Miles Davis
and the Cool” shows a great use of melody
and atmospheric guitar lines to give the song
a melancholic feel. The song transitions to a
bridge that would have felt at home on Elvis
Costello’s “My Aim Is True” before returning to
the chorus to close.
The bottom line is that The Gaslight Anthem
has a sound which immediately brings groups of
old to mind. However, the band sets itself apart
from the past, and also from its contemporaries,
by blending what seems like disparate sounds
into a great product.
Somewhere along the line, Metallica strayed
from being a thrash metal powerhouse, to being
a disgrace to those in the metal community.
Beginning with the eponymous Black Album,
Metallica adopted shorter songs, fewer guitar
solos, and slower tempos. With renowned
producer Rick Rubin behind the mixing board
for Death Magnetic, Metallica promised that this
album would be a return to form of the pre-Black
From the opening machine-gun guitars of “That
Was Just Your Life,” it seems as though Metallica
may have just delivered this time around.
The opening track is over seven minutes long
and boasts multiple guitar solos, hair-trigger
down stroking, and a beefy production that
is worlds apart from their previous release,
St. Anger. It seems the band has tapped into their
‘80s vault of thrash riffs which drive most of the
songs, and Kirk Hammet’s solos sound tighter
than they have for much of his career. Hints of
Slayer’s Kerry King can be heard in standout
track “All Nightmare Long,” while “The Day That
Never Comes” harkens back to earlier Metallica
songs “One” and “Fade to Black.”
But the album is not without its faults.
With seven songs over seven minutes in length
each, many of them feel strained. They could
easily be cut shorter and still retain their epic
feel. Also, James Hetfield’s vocal style remains
unchanged, as he seems content to actually
sing, as opposed to yelling as he did in much of
the band’s early work. This takes the edge off
of many of the songs, and frankly makes them
much less “metal.”
All in all, Metallica delivered on this record what
fans have been screaming for for years. It may
not be the best it could be, but it is certainly a
giant step in the right direction.