I found a time machine. At least, I am pretty sure I have. I keep expecting to hear Casey Kasem on the radio here doing the top 40 while listening to the likes of Bon Jovi, Cinderella, and Motley Crue on the countdown. Based on one of the songs here, it even appears the soundtrack to ‘Top Gun’ had a song added to it. Listening to this new one by Crazy Lixx has taken me back to around 1986/ 1987 when flashy guitar solos and huge choruses were all the rage. It also happens to be the music of my younger years so I am loving it. While I was not a big fan of ‘Ruff Justice’ as a whole and preferred their previous self-titled album, this one (their 5th overall) is hitting all the right musical buttons though.
They lay down the gauntlet on lead track ‘Wicked’ as we are immediately greeted by the full band with an old school guitar riff and some large backing vocals. Danny Rexon’s vocals fit this style like a glove. They draw you in quickly and before you know it the first chorus is delivering a sharp hook to the skull. Repeated listens have me likening this song to something Bonfire might have done around the time of ‘Fireworks’ as the backing vocals are larger than life, but the music still maintains some extra crunch for this style. Follow up song ‘Break Out’ unleashes another catchy riff that would have been perfectly at home back in the 80’s. The song’s lyrics serve as an affirmation for everyone who goes through crappy days and times in some part of their life, which should be every one of us. This is a fist in the air anthem where the backing vocals remind me a bit of a band like Keel, but the style of music is maybe a bit more like early Def Leppard. I want to give a shout out to both Chrisse Olsson and Jens Lundgren on guitar who could have called this album ‘The Reason Air Guitar was Invented.’
New single ‘Silent Thunder’ is the song I referenced in the beginning that could have been on the ‘Top Gun’ soundtrack. Apparently, the band had similar ideas based on the video for the song. One of the cool things about this album is Crazy Lixx writes lyrics that cover a range of topics. It serves as a cool reminder that there were songs like ‘Cherokee’ by Europe back in the day. My favorite part of this one is actually the back half of the chorus where Rexon’s solitary vocal lines shine. ‘(She’s Wearing) Yesterday’s Face’ channels some vintage Skid Row and the band actually avoid the usual cliché lyrics here too. Joel Ciera gets to add some nice fills on the drums here with Jens Anderson (bass) also getting an opportunity to make his impact known.
‘Eagle’ serves as the mid album epic that settles into a midtempo groove and is simply a brilliant example of AOR rock done right. The intricate guitar licks provide a great foundation, and the chorus provides a great hook that will get you singing that line as you learn the rest of it. I could never see this being a single due to its length, even 30 plus years ago, but this is one I would really hope to hear live. The section at the end can be naturally extended for a cool jam in that setting. ‘Terminal Velocity’ features an intro that gradually comes to the surface and musically reminds me of early Lillian Axe. Whether it is because it had to follow ‘Eagle’ or some other factor, this is perhaps the one song on the album that I can see myself forgetting in time. I appreciate the lyrical ingenuity, but the large backing vocals in the chorus just do not grab me as much here. They quickly right the ship though with ‘It’s You’ being one of the rock songs where the keyboards feel a bit more prevalent in the mix. This one begs to be played on the highway with the windows down this summer. It’s another wordy chorus, but they pack it with an irresistible melody and several parts that stick to the brain.
Rather expectedly, the band delivers a huge power ballad in ‘Love Don’t Live Here Anymore.’ I am quite sure I could go back and make an 80’s movie even better by introducing this song around the halfway point of the album when the couple goes their separate ways before coming back together at the end. Rexon sings his butt off on this one and delivers his showcase performance of the album in the spotlight. The tasteful guitar solo rides across the music perfectly, and the chorus will be implanted in your brain. ‘Weekend Lover’ turns the pace back up again with this again recalling vintage Bonfire with the guitar riff having some teeth and perfectly complimenting the singalong chorus. There is even a great section where you know the band is going to incorporate some crowd participation before the awesome guitar solo kicks in live. “Final” song of the album is the classically titled ‘Never Die (Forever Wild),’ which keeps the tempo turned up and provides some eternal optimism in the lyrics. Like the majority of this album, I would be disappointed if I did not hear them do this in concert, which is probably the best compliment I can give the album. They add an acoustic version of ‘Love Don’t Live Here Anymore’ that is also awesome and would have likely been the b-side to the album version back in the day.
Crazy Lixx has unleashed a great album in ‘Forever Wild’ that will appeal to a large demographic. As we see bands like Def Leppard, Aerosmith and Kiss continue to fill large venues, there remains a large number of people who would love these songs and buy the albums if the band could ever score an opening gig on any of those types of tours, especially over here in the States. This album stands as my favorite work by Crazy Lixx so far and showcases a band that is still ascending. They do not resort to tired lyrical clichés but also find a way to tap into the nostalgia factor of older fans like myself. Great job Gentlemen
‘Forever Wild’ is available Here.
Author: Gerald Stansbury