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Crashdiet | The Savage Playground

by Mark Allen
– Senior Columnist –

CrashdietIt is possible for an album to be a disappointment and success at the same time. Take this latest release from Crashdiet; having made a name for themselves as the bad boys to beat in the Swedish sleaze-metal stakes courtesy of three anthem-filled releases, the band is burdened by histrionically high fan expectations that they are simply unable to fulfill on The Savage Playground. And yet, if you peel off the Crashdiet label and listen with non-expectant ears, this is a solid hard rock release. But that’s the problem—you expect Crashdiet to bang it out of the ball field, not settle for a base hit.

Let us not ignore the proverbial pachyderm in the room—the production. In a word, it sucks. If you want to swap “sucks” for a different s-word, then “shit” will suffice nicely. The muddy, sludgy, overly- compressed production is the primary reason this album fails like a one-legged amputee trying to dance the two-step. Some irate fans have trolled the internet forums demanding that whoever engineered this album be hung, shot, or preferably both. Seems a little harsh; let us all agree that killing the producer is not necessary, so long as someone chops his hands off to prevent him from touching studio equipment ever again.

But while the production bears the brunt of the blame for The Savage Playground being as much coal as diamond, it is not the sole culprit; the songs themselves rarely rise to the stratospheric levels one expects of Crashdiet. Most of the tracks sound like rough drafts, meaning they are solid enough but needed another pass or two to sharpen the hooks. Far too many of these songs would have never even been considered for prior Crashdiet releases, but this time the band seems content with run-of-the-mill rather than remarkable. Maybe this is them slumming, like Picasso painting graffiti.

But all is not lost. With the exception of a few tracks that are truly lamer than a hamstrung horse, most of these songs are pretty solid fare with energetic heaviness and gritty aggression. Some even manage to justify their inclusion on a Crashdiet album. “Anarchy” is one of those worthy tracks and is well on its way to becoming a fan favorite. “Circus” is the album highlight, rivaling the best the band has ever done, proving that Crashdiet are still capable of crafting a killer hook when they put their minds to it. “Got a Reason” injects some welcome melody into the sleazy proceedings and serves up a good, strong, rollicking chorus. So the band hasn’t lost their touch, they just don’t use it as often on this release. And even when they do engage in some of that classic Crashdiet sound, the miserable production damn near strangles it out of existence.

Listen, if you order filet mignon and get a burger instead, you’re going to be disappointed no matter how good the burger tastes. That said, most hard rock bands would be happier than a chocolate lover in the Hershey’s factory to release an album of this caliber. It’s only disappointing because it’s Crashdiet.

Genre: Hard Rock, Sleaze Metal

Band:
Simon Cruz (vocals)
Martin Sweet (guitar)
Peter London (bass)
Eric Young (drums)

Track Listing
1. Change the World
2. Cocaine Cowboys
3. Anarchy
4. California
5. Lickin’ Dog
6. Circus
7. Sin City
8. Got a Reason
9. Drinkin’ Without You
10. Snakes in Paradise
11. Damaged Kid
12. Excited
13. Garden of Babylon

Webpage: www.crashdiet.org

Label: Frontiers Records

Hardrock Haven rating: 7.5/10

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