Beautiful Distraction, the debut release from Ontario natives 9 Lives and Counting, came out last August and I’m upset that it has taken me this long to discover it. I blame the Illuminati. For what it’s worth, now that I know it exists I’m going to push it on anyone I know who can appreciate a tasty riff and a bouncy groove. It fuses the melodic sensibility of Rust in Peace-era Megadeth with the more whimsical funk metal of Angel Dust-era Faith no More. According to the internet, that should be a good thing.
Opening a record with a bang is important, and it doesn’t get much louder than “Out of my Head.” This song (as well as every other one on this record) is full of hooks and features stellar performances from all four of the band’s members. With a similar quality to Dave Mustaine, Craig Burnatowski’s voice may prove to be an acquired taste for many, but it has personality for days and his melodies are really A plus. Guitarist Peter Alexander also uses the track to prove the assertion that the band was “built to honour the power of the riff.”
On “Seas of the Unknown,” Alexander backs off a little to let bassist Scott Everatt have a little fun with slapping and popping the likes of which really haven’t been used enough in metal since the heyday of nu-metal. To be sure, Everatt’s performance on this album is stuff that would make Fieldy and Flea very proud.
“Nothing I Could Do” flirts so closely with dance rock that it’s practically ready for a Franz Ferdinand album. Let’s use this one as a chance to highlight drummer Jason Hutchings who you all probably thought I forgot about. He’s a master at adapting to any style his band mates throw at him, sinking into this upbeat groove with ease.
What is really special about these musicians’s chemistry is that they all manage to add their own flare to any particular section while not sounding like they’re trying to overshadow or outdo one another. It’s not just shred for the sake of shred; all the instruments build on each other to create some really special pieces of music. Not every song is necessarily a home run classic, but this is an exceptional collection guaranteed to please fans of all styles of hard rock and metal.
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Danielle Kenedy