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Maxxwell - 'All In' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/03/f0/22/1321_MaxxwellAllIn_1306963796.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     June 01, 2011    
 
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'All In' dazzles and moves in equal measure.

With its macho cover art and sleaze-ridden riffs, 'All In' appears little more than a mindless exercise in adrenalin. But beneath these misleading first impressions lie an unexpected wealth of ultra-smart songwriting and soulful moments of melodic clarity. 

Buzzing with grinding, arena-ready energy, the Swiss quintet embrace an overwhelmingly Americanised sound, spanning a good-time cocktail of sing-along choruses and face-melting solos. As such, the album features a hefty helping of stereotypical old school trappings which, without Maxxwell's more creative tendencies, would prove painfully unoriginal. Among the band's more crowd-pleasing offerings, 'Black Widow' follows a grinding course of bouncy, multidirectional guitars topped with predictably saucy references to "leather and lace" and suchlike. Backed by an action movie-like array of sirens and gunfire, 'Dead End Street' is infectiously upbeat and toys impressively with alternately smooth and gritty riffing textures. Accelerating into a ferociously aggressive climax, the track also proves satisfyingly metallic throughout.

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Striking an altogether more sophisticated balance between catchiness and intelligent writing, 'Trouble' opens on an anthemic tangle of guitars spliced with complex midsections that reveal the evident brains behind this brawny standout. However, it's the deliciously melancholic 'Still Alive' that sees the five-piece at their creative peak. Rich and mellow as a fine bourbon, singer Nobi Suppiger howls and croons with authentic, rock god-like charisma, his slightly roughened vocals caressing a semi-acoustic melody line planted firmly in Guns 'n' Roses-style territory. Laced with muscular, razor-sharp riffs, this superb power ballad features a fine-tuned blend of aggression and emotion.

Nevertheless, it's all too easy to pigeonhole Maxxwell as the latest in a long line of retro metal copycats, but this catchy yet musically complex outfit are virtually impossible to pin down. Meandering from rabble-rousing party anthems to hangover-like episodes of sorrow, 'All In' dazzles and moves in equal measure.

Faye Coulman

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