Review by Andy Hawes for MPM
Cleanbreak is another one of those “supergroups” that Frontiers Records seem to love so much, although this one’s pedigree might not be as well known as some of their others.
With vocalist James Durbin, guitarist Mike Flyntz (Riot V), bassist Perry Richardson (Stryper, ex-Firehouse) and drummer Robert Sweet (Stryper), this is a band formed to play classic melodic Heavy Metal from the 80 and that’s exactly what we have to offer here. And boy, is it a good one!! Oh yes indeed!
I was initially somewhat surprised at the involvement of Frontiers Records “go to” writer/producer Alessandro Del Vecchio in this project, and worried that it might water down the material a bit – not that the The man isn’t hugely talented, but he’s popping up all over the place right now and it would be easy for his creative talents to get a little overstretched.
However, I’m happy to say that while it’s possible to hear his sometimes slightly cliche approach to melody in some tracks, that in no way diminishes the power of the melodies created by Cleanbreak and, in fact, potentially enhances it. . adding catchy melodies to the huge Metal roar that makes up the sound of Cleanbreak.
Fans of Frontiers’ fellow bands WET and Eclipse will find much to appreciate in the grooves on this album, as will fans of traditional ’80s American metal like Dokken.
Cleanbreak is strong with colossal, muffled guitar riffs that enliven the songs, plenty of elegant solos and a powerful rhythm section that pound the listener’s senses while Durbin’s impressive metallic moan tears the flesh from your bones and makes melt the paint off the walls.
It’s not a rosy, mellow melodic rock sound, but rather a thunderous melodic metal maelstrom and it takes few prisoners as it rages out of the speakers.
Opening with a heartbreaking triumvirate of “Coming Home”, “Before the Fall” and “Dying Breed”, Cleanbreak detonates a melodic nuclear explosion of such megatonnage that cities are razed, mountains are shaken and all doubt on the project are simply evaporated in the storm of colossal riffs, moaning vocals and steam-pounding drum power.
“We Are The Warriors” is the best thing Dokken has ever recorded, as Cleanbreak stalks through the massive ranks of unbelievers slicing left and right with their mighty metallic swords, the highly infectious melodies pounding their inexorable path through the listener’s head and refusing to let go.
Following this, “Dream Forever” arrives with an extremely dirty and sinister riff before turning into a gasping one-track monster with some of the catchiest melodies on the entire album.
‘Man of Older Soul’ raises the bar even further in a whirlwind of up-tempo melodic Metal; massaged vocal harmonies propelling the hooks into the stratosphere before the double bass drum frenzy of ‘Still Fighting’, which borders on Speed Metal but still manages a spectacular melody. You have to hear the beat of this one to believe it – it’s easy to forget that Robert Sweet has been pounding skins for over 40 years and still handling this kind of speed and intensity. Unbelievable!
The intensity drops just a bit for the huge ‘The Pain of Goodbye’, but it’s still a monumental slab of molten 80s American metal with another irresistible chorus and to this day there’s absolutely no doubt that Cleanbreak has absolutely nailed this sound and made it their own.
We’re on the home straight now and that’s where Cleanbreak makes its first and only stumble with the track ‘Cleanbreak’ which, despite a sleek set of 80s-inspired riffery and some cool harmony guitars, seems just falling on the wrong side of the cheesy metal. Sorry guys! This is one for the ‘jump’ button.
Luckily, Cleanbreak returns instantly and very effectively with the brilliant and very Dokken-esque “Find My Way” which has an absolutely massive chorus and sees Durbin hold some pretty huge notes on the hooks before the band rushes to the line. arrived with another very melodious chugfest in ‘No Other Hearts’.
Phew!! Eleven tracks of monstrous melodic Metal chaos with no ballads in sight. To me, this is hands down the most enjoyable “supergroup” project Frontiers has ever put together (and that statement comes from an AOR fanatic who normally skims the mellow pink side of rock!)
There’s definitely nothing rosy or fluffy about this Cleanbreak album. It’s a colossal slab of melodic metallic power. It works thanks to the strength of the writing and the obvious energy that all the members put into the project.
Sounds like it’s been a real labor of love (sounds like a ‘band’, not just a ‘project’) and a special mention should go to singer James Durbin who really makes these songs his own with a really slick performance . Its tone is wonderful, it never relies on the crazy histrionics (which this genre of music has often resorted to in the past) and it just delivers what each song demands every time. Huge round of applause Mr. Durbin! Superb job!
Fans of melodic 80s American metal MUST buy or stream this album immediately! It’s an absolute belt!
Coming Home » Tracklisting:
- Go home
- before the fall
- endangered breed
- We are the warriors
- dream forever
- The Older Soul Man
- Keep on fighting
- The pain of goodbye
- find my way
- No other hearts
James Durbin – vocals
Mike Flyntz – Guitar
Perry Richardson – Bass
Robert Sweet – Drums