Hot off the Press

Hollywood Burnouts | Excess All Areas

by Mark Allen
– Senior Columnist —

With cover art showing a close-up of a woman’s leather-clad ass, member names like Nazzty, Roxx, Crash, and Sin, and song titles like “Hands of Rock” and “Wild at Heart,” nobody will mistake Excess All Areas for the latest Rush CD. This debut from German retro-rockers Hollywood Burnouts is one sonic book that you can easily judge by its cover and what that cover promises is a whole lot of ‘80s hair metal in the Sunset Strip tradition.

Hollywood Burnouts nail the old school sound, albeit in a somewhat generic—though still enjoyable—fashion. Originality is not high on the list; hell, it’s not on the list at all. All these boys want to do is look and sound like an Aquanet-abusing ‘80s sleaze rock band and their wish fulfillment borrows every hoary cliché the scene ever foisted upon us. Yep, Excess All Areas is as original as the missionary position.

But even the missionary position is quite enjoyable and what it lacks in the wow department it compensates for time-tested reliability. After all, man cannot live on the Reverse Cowgirl alone and neither can hard rock fans survive solely on a diet of deep, morose, introspective music. Sometimes you just need to rock out with your cock out, let down your hair, grind to the groove, and scream shallow lyrics about getting drunk, getting to the party, and getting the girl.

What you get when you crank this album is slavish mimicry of hair metal’s heyday, with loud drums, squealing guitars, power-hooks, anthemic rockers, acoustic ballads, melodic production, gang vocals…the list goes on, Hollywood Burnouts doing their best to incorporate the entire ‘80s metal checklist. They are committed to recreating the sound they adore and even if that sound comes across as a bit cut-rate and second tier, you have to admire their energy and willingness to play this stuff straight rather than modernizing it like many bands or satirizing the genre like Steel Panther.

Sure, this unabashedly retro-glam style is easier to criticize than the latest Paulie Shore movie. You could find a million reasons not to listen to this; after all, why add another grade-B hair band to the collection when your shelf is already full of them? Fair enough point, and if you’re feeling over-saturated with slightly stale sleaze rock, then perhaps it’s best you ignore this album like Rosie O’Donnell ignoring a Weight Watcher’s commercial. But for those who cannot get enough of this sound and style, Hollywood Burnouts delivers a flawed but fun, hard rocking good time.

What ‘80s headbanger can’t grin at an anthem like “Hands of Rock,” which is every bit the cheese-fest it sounds like it will be, yet remains remarkably satisfying? Or how about “Everybody Needs a Hero,” the best song by far thanks to a killer chorus that transcends the boilerplate quality that defines most of the album. Even the blatant rip-offs are enjoyable in a lowbrow kind of way; after all, you’ve heard “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme” before when it was called “Unskinny Bop” and sung by Poison, but even leftovers can provide a tasty treat when seasoned with the spice of familiarity.

Yes, Hollywood Burnouts engage in an excess of copycatting, but it is enjoyable copycatting. Still, the band needs to grab hair metal by the balls and put their own stamp on it. This debut is decent enough to forgive its flaws, but next time these guys need to fine-tune their songwriting to craft something truly memorable rather than simply take a stroll down memory lane. If they succeed at finding their own identity, they may very well leave their mark on the melodic hard rock genre; if they can’t, they will most likely burn out and fade away.

Genre: Hair Metal, Glam Metal, Sleaze Metal, Melodic Hard Rock

Mike Nazzty (vocals, guitars)
Chrizzy Roxx (guitars)
Vito Crash (bass)
Nikki Sin (drums)

Track Listing
1. Hands of Rock
2. Tonight
3. Wild Side
4. A Part of My Heart
5. Gimme, Gimme, Gimme
6. I Wanna Ride
7. Kings of Sin
8. 8 Lives Gone
9. Fake Baby
10. Wild at Heart
11. Everybody Needs a Hero
12. Remember Me

Label: Rock Road Records


Hardrock Haven rating: 7.5/10