Hot off the Press

Trixter | New Audio Machine

by Mark Allen
Staff Writer —

Fans who have been chomping at the bit to sink their teeth—well, ears, technically—into this comeback album from Trixter will find it to be a mixed bag. There are some sweet melodic hard rock treats to be savored, but there are some less-tasty tricks as well. The balance is slightly tipped toward the former, but the unwelcome presence of the latter means this is not the classic Trixter reunion fans hoped for.

Sound-wise, this albums cleaves closely to Hear!, the band’s cult-beloved sophomore effort that came out twenty years ago. (Yes, now would be the appropriate time for everyone to moan, “Holy shit, I feel old.”) While the debut was undone by anorexic production, Hear! corrected that flaw with a bulkier, harder, less-glammy style that improved on its predecessor in practically every department. Two decades later, Trixter has wisely picked up where that sophomore album left off. New Audio Machine sounds absolutely killer, engineered for a thick sonic spectrum that takes full advantage of current production technology without sounding overly modern or hopelessly retro. You can crucify some of the songwriting choices on this album—and make no mistake, we will—but you cannot crucify the production. This sounds damn good, and kudos to those who catch the Trixter reference right there.

Also sounding sweeter than a sack full of Halloween candy is the axe work of Steve Brown. In some critical circles the music of Trixter has been called generic, but even those who blasted the band often praised the six-string skills of Brown and nothing here justifies altering that assessment. Brown’s sharp, sizzling prowess is all over New Audio Machine. Also showing no signs of rust is vocalist Pete Loran and between these two, not to mention the other original members who have all returned for this new album, they manage to give a portion of this release that classic Trixter sound.

But therein lays the rub; only some of New Audio Machine is immediately identifiable as Trixter. Sometimes this is everything you want from a Trixter album; other times, you’re left wondering what this or that song is doing on a Trixter album. New Audio Machine works in snippets, but taken a whole the album lacks that cohesive Trixter vibe. The band always brought a sense of anthemic power to the table, but on this new album the hooks sometimes falter and the rush of anticipatory excitement fades into the disappointment of unfulfilled expectations. None of the songs are dreadful—nothing on this release will make you want to chop off your ears—but a few too many just aren’t up to snuff.

But cast aside critical cynicism, focus on a glass half-full philosophy, and you will find plenty of assets. “Get On It” for example, with its slamming beat, banging rhythms, dynamic chorus, and gang vocal enhancements, is classic Trixter. Then there is “Dirty Love,” which is not only the best kind, but also one of the best tracks. Simplistic, sure, but in a retro-cool kind of way. The song just screams the ‘80s…you’ll just scream along to the song. The album highlight is the first single, “Tattoos & Misery,” which comes equipped with more catchiness than any one song has a right to. “Save Your Soul” is the kind of turn-it-up-to-ten anthem that was a staple of ‘80s metal, built out of hooky power chords and a huge chorus with gang vocals shouting, “Rock and roll will save your soul.” Yeah, it’s dumb and loud and bloated with enough Velveeta to give even KISS pause, but somehow Trixter make it work.

And so it goes, great songs mixed with so-so songs intertwined with some outright filler. Sure, this album could have—some might say, should have—been better, but it also could have been much, much worse. Ultimately, though this is a flawed effort from the band, there are enough treats on here to make it worth taking a ride on Trixter’s hard rock machine.

Genre: Melodic Hard Rock

Pete Loran (lead vocals)
Steve Brown (guitars)
P.J. Farley (bass)
Mark “Gus” Scott (drums, percussion)

Track Listing
1. Drag Me Down
2. Get On It
3. Dirty Love
4. Machine
5. Live for the Day
6. Ride
7. Physical Attraction
8. Tattoos & Misery
9. The Coolest Thing
10. Save Your Soul
11. Walk With a Stranger


Label: Frontiers Records

Hardrock Haven rating: 7/10