April 1, 2010

Album Review: "Time to Burn" by Taking Dawn

The hair metal scene has seen its glory days come and go, and though many bands from the scene still exist today, very few are still considered relevant by most standards. In fact, it's not a far stretch to say that the number of active hair metal bands from the 1980s is easily exceeded by the number of Bon Jovi, Poison, and Twisted Sister tribute bands in existence. However, with the popularity of the classic hits by these bands, it was only a matter of time before young hair metal bands started to emerge, and the first such band to gain popular notice is Taking Dawn. Formerly known as 7th Son, this Las Vegas quartet rose to fame very quickly and earned themselves a deal with Roadrunner Records in 2009. Their debut album, Time to Burn, displays a new take on the hair metal style that might serve to inspire other young, aspiring bands in the scene.

Time to Burn is a very fast-paced record, incorporating lots of classic thrash elements into the basic hair metal foundation. While the core sound is easily identifiable, Taking Dawn stands out from their predecessors with their fast, technical playing. Almost all of the songs have strong guitar solos, and Alan Doucette's precision drumming provides a great deal of driving force, moving the songs forward with purpose and direction. The band's instrumental tightness is matched by Chris Babbitt's excellent lead vocals. He displays an impressive range, and his delivery is passionate and enticing to listeners. He doesn't hit the insanely high notes that some of his forerunners could, but in many ways, this makes him stand out more from others, since it doesn't appear that he's just trying to emulate an old style.

The one area where Taking Dawn suffers is their lyrics. In many ways, the lyrics cover the same old topics of metal, dealing with self-actualization, individuality, and anti-establishment themes. At the same time, though, these lyrics are so over-the-top in their rhetoric that they almost seem to be pulled from a guide to shock rock. With plenty of anti-religious language and enough cursing to give Tipper Gore a heart attack, Taking Dawn certainly don't hold back in their message. And while almost all metal fans will be able to identify with the lyrics in some way, the lyrical style might leave some newer metal fans scratching their heads in confusion.

If they can overcome the stigma they could potentially suffer for being so extravagant with their lyrics, Taking Dawn has a bright future. They have already appeared on tours with Dragonforce, All That Remains, Lacuna Coil, Theory of a Deadman, and Halestorm, showcasing how wide-ranging their appeal can be. Having such a diverse audience will work in their favor, since they are capable of attracting both young metalheads and older, more seasoned rock fans. The older crowd will especially appreciate the band's cover of Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain", which is the last track on Time to Burn. With so many factors working in their favor, Taking Dawn might be the band that successfully revitalizes hair metal.

Score: 7 out of 10

Track Listing

1. Time to Burn
2. Like a Revolution
3. Take Me Away
4. So Loud
5. Save Me
6. Close Your Eyes
7. Godless
8. Fight 'Em With Your Rock
9. Never Enough
10. Endlessly
11. The Chain

Album Personnel

Chris Babbitt - Lead vocals, lead guitar
Mikey Cross - Rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Andrew Cushing - Bass guitar, backing vocals
Alan Doucette - Drums, backing vocals

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