GERMAN CHEESE-METAL REVIEW ROUNDUP: BIG BALL AND KISSIN’ DYNAMITE
German cheese-metal. Admit it. You’ve got a couple of guilty pleasures in there. Manowar commands respect with their brand of – bah, I can’t even write that with a straight face. Manowar is enjoyable enough chest-beating cheese that this Brother of Metal will gladly fist-pump along with, though I stop short of the Creatine and loin cloth.
That regrettable aesthetic came to mind when I sat down to review the new offerings from what I expected to be the worst of the ‘wurst: Big Ball (BIG BALL, if you ask them) and Kissin’ Dynamite. Perplexingly, what I got was a lot of AC/DC. Let me explain.
Big Ball’s Hotter Than Hell is an unapologetic clone of our favorite Aussies, mid-career. Sounds horrible, right? Much to my surprise, that knee-jerk reaction is dead wrong. Well, it’s sort of wrong, anyway.
The album comes dangerously close to pulling off the tried-(and tried- and tried-) and true formula mastered by Angus and company. And after many listens, I find myself asking: “What’s wrong with that?”
Sure, Black Ice, AC/DC’s most recent offering, sat surprisingly well with fans new and old. But that was back in 2008. The more rabid fans are frothing at the mouth for something new by now, and I’ll admit it — there are some tasty licks in Big Ball’s debut album. A lot of them. Mixed with vocalist Thomas Gurrath’s right-on-the-money rasp, it’s difficult to dismiss the band that is self-aware enough to bill itself as “AC/DC style hard rock.”
The one gripe that comes to mind is the homogeneity of the songs. They all bounce, they all have a gang-shoutable chorus and the solos are placed and played predictably. But that’s what’s been working for AC/DC for damn near thirty years.
Hotter Than Hell rocks from start to finish, with nary a ballad to gum up the works. The musicianship is more than competent and the soloing is borderline satisfying for this AC/DC fan. If you find yourself tiring of the sixteen genuine article AC/DC albums, Big Ball will serve as a totally listenable stopgap while the aging (average age 57!) “real deal” is too busy making millions of dollars touring to record new music.
Kissin’ Dynamite is another beast entirely. And it’s an ugly beast. The band name comes from a throwaway AC/DC track from 1988’s Blow Up Your Video. (If you take issue with the “throwaway” label, I’ll see you in the parking lot.)
The album in question, Addicted To Metal, is equally “dismissive wanking motion-able,” and even a guest appearance by countryman and labelmate Udo Dirkschneider can’t right this ship.
It’s not an altogether titanic failure, though. The playing is solid and the production glossy, which comes unexpected from a 2010 re-hash of the type of hair/power metal that entered and left the metal community’s collective conscious in the ‘80s.
Unlike AC/DC, the hard rock peddled by acts like Accept, Krokus and the like was more than enough to fill demand, then and now. We sure as hell didn’t need a cover of the Damn Yankees’ “High Enough,’ and songs like “Assassins of Love” are downright embarrassing. Check this lyric: “Killing with love/We are assassins of pleasure/Killing with love/We are assassins of lust.” And they’re serious.
Assassins of pleasure, indeed.
In the cases of Big Ball and Kissin’ Dynamite, you’re probably best off turning to the classics. Big Ball will do in an AC/DC pinch, but if you’re looking for ‘80s cock rock, turn on some Skid Row or something.
Now excuse me while I put on some “Big Guns” – and I don’t mean AC/DC.
Big Ball, Hotter Than Hell:
(3 1/2 outta five horns)
Kissin’ Dynamite, Addicted to Metal:
(1 1/2 out of 5 Horns)