Extreme, Six Review
Boston-born hard rock virtuosos, EXTREME, return to the musical fold with their sixth studio album, appropriately titled SIX. The record vividly displays the band’s ability to oscillate between strident rock anthems and tender ballads, giving the listeners a tour-de-force through the band’s creative journey, which some may find extreme.
SIX bursts to life with its inaugural track, “RISE,” the first single; it epitomizes the band’s resilient spirit while delivering a stark commentary on fame’s pitfalls. The song form is well-constructed and a potent cocktail of Gary Cherone’s raw vocal intensity and Nuno Bettencourt’s guitar wizardry. Bettencourt’s guitar strength shines brightly, sculpting the track with supportive solid riffs and dynamic alternate picking that stirs listeners to the core.
Following the trailblazing “RISE” is “#REBEL,” a bold anthem radiating with the spirit of the band’s indomitable will. Bettencourt’s flowing fretwork and Cherone’s powerhouse vocals are energized by the rhythmic powerhouse of Badger and Figueiredo. Bettencourt crafts a vibrant sonic spectacle that heightens the listening experience from the two-hand tapping to expressive wah-wah techniques. This is by far the best track on the album.
“BANSHEE” continues the hard rock englut of deep groove paired with rock sounds and attitude. The song is well-written, and everything is just as it should be. Again the vocal harmonies are excellent, and the moments of vocal counterpoint are also very nice. Bettencourt delivers another stellar guitar solo.
The album’s initial ardor mellows with “OTHER SIDE OF THE RAINBOW,” an intimate ballad that unveils a softer side of EXTREME. Cherone’s vocals are warm, and one has to notice his ability to change his tone and delivery based on the song. Bettencourt’s acoustic guitar builds captivating support, and the music shows the band’s strong vocal harmonies.
“SMALL TOWN BEAUTIFUL” continues the extreme softer side, where the lyrics and Cherone’s impressive vocal agility are the star of the song. The song flow does show the band’s striking versatility.
The extreme journey continues with the band’s experimental tracks “THE MASK” and “THICKER THAN BLOOD.” The former track’s alternative swagger is catchy with its rumbling six-eight grooves, but the song could use a lift by a heavy feel change that drives it home. The latter’s unfortunate miss by blending in electronic elements. However, the music keeps the theme of EXTREME’s eclectic sound. Also, “X OUT” is plagued by the electronic experience, which might speak to some.
“SAVE ME,” “HURRICANE” builds on the band’s talent in combining memorable melodies, distinctive harmonies, and palpable rock riffs to keep the music flowing and captivating. Cherone’s vocal timbre is underscored here, wonderfully supported by Bettencourt’s precise fretwork. It’s these more traditional rock tracks where the album truly resonates. The album could have benefited from additional similar compositions.
“HURRICANE” and “BEAUTIFUL GIRLS’ turns in a ballad and another extreme left turn with a pop rock beach vibe. The band is talented enough to make all these styles believable in their playing and singing, but as a whole, one does start to question the flow, but in the age of picking your tracks from the album and sticking it on a playlist, it might not even matter.
SIX concludes with “HERE’S TO THE LOSERS,” a closing act that mirrors the band’s unapologetic celebration of individuality and nonconformity. It’s a fitting end to an extreme rollercoaster ride of an album that contains elements of surprise, delight, what, and challenge.
EXTREME’s commitment to their craft and remarkable musical versatility is unquestionable. There’s no doubt that SIX is a polarizing offering, brimming with unexpected twists and turns, which ultimately makes EXTREME who they are – a band that isn’t afraid to push boundaries and disrupt the status quo. While some might argue that the album’s explorative leap into experimental territories dilutes its overall impact, one cannot deny the immense talent and creativity that went into its making. So, the takeaway is to pick your three or four favorite tracks and move on; those extremely musical songs will withstand another fifteen years of service. That’s the short of it!
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June 9, 2023