Genre: Hard rock
Label: Century Media Records
Steady and constant in their music, Buckcherry have made few sweeping departures from their formula over the years. Sticking with the recipe that has garnered them widespread fame and chart success is hardly unwise, though it does mean there are few surprises when it comes to their brand. One area which does seem to be thriving however is ambition, as the band proves with latest effort Confessions. A themed album that will also form the basis for a film, it is suitably pompous in vision and well-trodden in execution. Its concept is an interesting one however – it uses the seven deadly sins as backdrop, leaning on a spiritual fable that has provided ample fodder for music and film alike. It’s rare to find something that explores the seven sins to their utmost darkness, and Confessions doesn’t make this the epic troubling vista it could be, but Buckcherry make a very valiant effort with it. It’s a worthy listen and one that’s completely in keeping with the style for which they’re well-known and well-liked.
Seven songs are overtly named for the sins, but the band intersperse these with more loosely linked tracks. This can make the album sound a little uneven at times and it also means it’s far too long. Fifty minutes is pushing it when a lot of the songs tend to depart from your central narrative and, ironically, sound better than the themed ones. Some of the sins could actually have been cut to make way for the other tracks, which bring more by way of diversity and pathos.
Confessions leaps right in with “Gluttony” and “Wrath.” “Gluttony” isn’t quite as stellar as it could be, though it does come laden with power and gruff charisma. Instead, “Wrath” ups the ante, building momentum with harmonies and thundering guitars. Josh Todd’s vocals are perfectly pitched, the confidence in his tone matching the music’s sense of defiance and intent. It’s only marginally undone by some overwrought solos towards the end and otherwise proves a worthy reflection of its title. Further along, “Greed” presents a conflicted interpretation of its titular sin, while “Pride” is perhaps the most finely realised song on the album. It’s lively and sharp with bristling anger spilling through Todd’s voice. The disaffected instruments provide a neat contrast with the enmity in the lyrics, which seem starker and darker for the almost spoken-word style he adopts in the verses. It’s both flippant and pessimistic and very catchy.
The other sins don’t fare as well. “Lust” is surprisingly unmemorable and “Sloth” is a mess, weighed down with strings and heartache and dissolving into a contrived, cheesy syrup. “Envy” comes over all Taylor Swift in its lyrics. They do match the theme but Todd’s angry posturing as to why the girl in question would go off with someone else when he’s offering all his feelings doesn’t translate at all. It’s not a bad song and perfectly enjoyable musically, just a little overdone in words. While these might not live up the album’s epic sights however, some of the attendant songs work marvellously. Freed from constrains of title, they’re freer and richer and add some much-needed depth. The use of keys on “Water” brings out a softer, more poignant side to the album. They seem to represent feeling and celebration and temper the rather predictable onslaught of guitars and monotone vocals. “Air” is afflicted and sombre. Todd sounds resigned and put upon, distancing himself from the confidence in the sprawling music. The tone veers from light and curious to more intensive, reflecting changes in the mood of the lyrics. “Nothing Left But Tears” is very emotionally charged with a palpable streak of wildness and anguish. Todd’s vocals are lacking here somewhat, but the guitar tweaks give it more colour, as does a fine chorus that’s all arching defiance.
The various elements combine for an end result that’s confident and commendable, if not completely successful in its ambition. Confessions is a very entertaining listen and brings as much rugged aggression as you could hope for, though as a concept album it’s disappointing to see how easily some of the themed songs let it down. It’ll be interesting to see where the adjoining film goes from here.
Review written by Grace Duffy