"Locked & Loaded"

(3 for 5)

01. Locked & Loaded
02. Immortal
03. Bender
04. Straightjacket Supermodel
05. Fortune Teller
06. What Would You Kill
07. With The Truth
08. Let’s Burn
09. Crime Scene
10. Shut Out The World
11. Forgive

RATING: 7/10

New York rockers EVE TO ADAM appear be to on a mission, as much as THE CULT was in the late Eighties and early Nineties, to revamp not only themselves but the ethos of rock music itself. While the bands hardly mirror one another in sound, what they have in common is having morphed themselves from an alternative base into straightforward hard rock with the explicit purpose of shooting to thrill.

While it's arguable that Taki and Alex Sassaris engineered a hipper product with EVE TO ADAM's alternative-grounded "Auburn Slip" and "Antidote" EP, their fifth album "Locked & Loaded" is their most accessible, even more so than its 2011 predecessor, "Banquet for a Starving Dog". One thing's for certain, their foiled Desmond Child deal and personnel changeups had much to do with the decision to lug their hook-oriented bag of pop rocks, a strategy that's progressively gained them a widespread audience.

"Locked & Loaded"'s unassuming approach to fusing past and latter day hard rock modes that began with 2007's "Queens to Eden" finds the band taking yet another step toward the mainstream. Many of the album's songs are FM-ready (i.e. "Locked & Loaded", "Immortal", "Let's Burn", "What Would You Kill?" and the album's debut single, "Straitjacket Supermodel"). Thus "Locked & Loaded"'s leitmotif is churning out anthem-driven, melodic rock with tempered guitar solos, banging grooves and crafty vocals from Taki Sassaris.

Dashes of FILTER and SOUNDGARDEN go into the beefy title track, while a slinking, electro-metal treatment ala FILTER plays its hand in "Straitjacket Supermodel". As the choruses hit on the latter, one can only assume it took everything Taki Sassaris had in him not to extend his elevated throat scrapes into Richard Patrick's cyber-huffing turf. Instead, the FILTER replications are relegated to the song's pounding guitar riffs and pulsing trenches.

While loaded with a radio-hungry mentality, there are a fair amount of dynamics to "Locked & Loaded" to make it entertaining enough. "With the Truth" is a bit of a slow cooker, but appositely, "Bender" is the fastest and most aggressive track on the album, straight down to Taki Sassaris bragging how much he "loves this feeling, goddammit". "Fortune Teller"'s metallic furrows and guitar jerk-outs from Gaurav Bali override the otherwise conventional feel of the choruses and bridges. "Forgive" scores a plus with a pair of warbling, static-laden breakdowns that disrupt the song's casual plod.

One of the album's curveballs comes via "Crime Scene", which rings like an Eighties pop rock number Rick Springfield would've wanted to lay claim to. At least the melancholic and unhurried jam "Shut Out the World" attempts to restore airs of EVE TO ADAM's early year alt doings.

For all that's positive in this band, EVE TO ADAM is in danger of turning vanilla, something for them to be mindful of on their way up the ladder. As it is, "Locked & Loaded" has its share of cool jams that'll sound bitchin' through the subwoofers in the back of a Shelby gt500. Herein appears to be this band's current prime directive, retooling muscular heavy rock for The Fast and the Furious generation.


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