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Michael Monroe - 'Blackout States' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/46/95/40/michael-monroe-blackout-states-12-1449262647.jpg Hot

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It's an inspiration to see a musician with so many years behind him still evolving and putting out original music.

One thing you need with Michael Monroe is stamina. The Finnish front-man has been singing, touring and climbing up lighting rigs at gigs for over thirty years now but he is back yet again, bursting onto the Rock scene with his latest album 'Blackout States'. And you're going to need a whole extra tank of gas for this one.

We kick off fast and upbeat with 'This Ain't No Love Song'. Monroe sounds in great vocal shape, keeping the delivery light and pacey with his usual injection of attitude and humour. Bassist Sami Yaffa (ex-Hanoi Rocks) Rocks around in 'Old King's Road', backing up the solid, headstrong riff. 'Keep Your Eye On You' is more thoughtful but never melancholy. The composition is delightfully light and layered with slips of guitar, steady drums and a rippling bass; a strong song-writing success.

'Good Old Bad Days' revolves around a catchy riff and features a silky saxophone solo that weaves effortlessly with Yaffa's guitar work. One thing about this band is how well they complement each other, and they know exactly when less is more. 'R.L.F.' is less interesting riff and melody wise but altogether more anthemic and pulse-raising. Monroe is energetic but it's still amazing how many words he can cram in so quickly, and enunciated properly too. One thing is for sure, he doesn't cut corners.

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'Permanent Youth' offers something a little different to the headlong rush of riffs in the other tracks; Monroe's vocals slide and waver through the melody, something he always manages to pull off so charmingly. Sax in the solo brings some Jazzy Rock 'n' Roll and, rhythmically, it's a nice change from the sometimes ongoing monotony of guitar and pace on several other tracks.

'Dead Hearts On Denmark Street' has a toughness and edge to it that makes it stand out. Monroe's voice hardens, slicing through Karl Rockfist's relentless drum beat and there's tales of night-time debauchery and all its characters to be found in the lyrics. Closing track 'Walk Away' is one of my favourites. It's got a chorus rammed with catchy backing vocals, a verse resting on an infectious bass and guitar combination, and a simple but classy Rock 'n' Roll solo. It's the perfect track to close up such a jaunty, colourful album, still sparkling with the occasional touches of Glam.

'Blackout States' is fresh, fun and delivers Monroe's classic high-energy, Punky take on Modern Rock music. For me it was more coherent and enjoyable than some of Michael Monroe's earlier solo work, such as 'Sensory Overdrive'.

It's an inspiration to see a musician with so many years behind him still evolving and putting out original music.

Sophie Brownlee

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