On the title track of Buckcherry's metallic K.O. of a sophomore album, lead singer Joshua Todd sings in his sandpaper falsetto, "Life ain't nothing but bitches and money," quoting the pioneering gangsta rap group N.W.A. If you've never heard Buckcherry, you might assume from this description they're yet another limp rap-metal fusion band comin' straight outta suburbia but you'd be wrong. Yes, they're old school, but they've been educated in a school of hard rocks where AC/DC, GN'R and Aerosmith all have tenure.
Kicking off with a double-barreled blast of Devon Glenn's big-bottomed drums and Keith Nelson's biker-friendly guitar riffage, "Time Bomb" not only demonstrates that these young L.A. guns have taken musical cues from Angus Young and company, they've also picked up the Aussies' knack for penning, um, subtle lyrical innuendoes, such as "If ya want a roller coaster/ Just take a slow ride on my shotgun." Other times, however, even the most remote pretense of nuance goes right out the window as on the swaggering "Porno Star", wherein Todd howls that "I'm a big dick motherf---in' porno star" over a pummeling, powerful monster guitar riff that's worth its weight in gold (or Jack Daniels). Here, bassist Jonathan Brightman and Glenn deftly move from a heavy, head-nodding groove to double-timed 4/4 rawk.
This album lives up to the promise of Buckcherry's 1999 debut (and its minor hit "Lit Up"), which came like a breath of fresh air in a room choking to death from an excess of nü-metal angst-rockers who had foregone good old-fashioned songwriting for stiff rhymes, leaden riffs and lead-footed drumming. Time Bomb is loaded with two things that are markedly absent from most of today's hard rock scene: memorable melodies and a loose but swinging rhythmic foundation.
Todd, Nelson and, occasionally, Brightman collaborate to create made-to-sing-along-to tracks such as the loud, anthemic "Place in the Sun" and the unapologetically pretty power ballad "Without You." Despite the good-time vibe, however, everything isn't roses out in L.A. There are more than a few tunes from the dark side of the saloon; but instead of making their listeners feel miserable, Buckcherry want to get 'em on their feet. For instance, the hard-driving, easy-riding "Underneath", in which Todd implores his lover to "save me from domestic suicide," is more an affirmation of life and love than a major league bummer. "Slit My Wrists" isn't a Bauhaus-worthy brooder, but rather another acknowledgement that relationships are hard, life sucks and then you die ("I can't carry on/ Don't you know that I still love you?"); and the infectious, whisky-and-caffeine-fueled music tells us we might as well party our little heads off before we kick the bucket through the golden (or fiery) gates.
Revved up and ready to rock, Buckcherry wanna shake us all night long with their noisy, energetic songs and balls-to-the-wall revelry. And for that, we salute them.
Buckcherry are old school, but they've been educated in a school of hard rocks where AC/DC,GN'R and Aerosmith all have tenure.