Review by Brain McGowan
The Scorpions influence is an unavoidable observation. So is the shoestring budget, stretched into corners it had no right to reach, bringing to life a great bunch of songs, rough around the edges perhaps, but delivered with huge heart and soul.
Toxic Heart are maybe Slovenia’s first glam rock band. Yes, the Scorpions loomed large during the band’s formative years, but the Lazarus like resurrection of glam rock in recent times clearly led to a Damascene conversion.
It’s a remarkably lean and confident debut. The garage band feel that creeps in occasionally is actually both a powerful image and a charming conceit, notions that are further encouraged by the music’s pulsating kinetic energy and melodious workouts.
Openers, ‘Ticket’ and ‘New Generation’ show no trace of original thinking – two very catchy tunes aside – but they are delivered with such conviction and style that it’s hard not to be impressed.
‘Love Is For Fools’ spins on a magnificent guitar hook before hurtling headlong into Scorpions territory. Standout track,‘The One’ emerges from a messy arrangement to take a brave tilt at guitar fuelled greatness, while the title track channels Blue Tears and Phantoms Opera in expressing the band’s positive philosophy. And it is a track again gilded by surges and spikes of axework, from guitarman, songwriter and producer, Mike Pipenbaher, whose heroic fills, frills and solos light up this album.
That manic, helter skelter quality continues into the album’s second half, unfortunately to its detriment, as the songs – roaringly empowered as they are- just aren’t robust enough to deal with the music’s linear momentum. Reminding us why great albums need all the ingredients – good songwriting, musicianship, performance and production, otherwise promise will remain unfulfilled.
That said, the promise needs to be there to start with, and Toxic Heart have that in abundance.
6 out of 10
2. New Generation
3. Love Is For Fools
4. The One
5. Ride Your Life
7. Big Time
9. Makin Me Bad
10. One Night Stand
11. Like The Way I Feel