Many will be keen to dwell on the past, but let’s cast aside the baggage, throw what we know out the door and focus on a fact as surprising as it is pleasing, because hands down, Back From The Dead is one of the best straight-ahead rock albums you’ll hear this year. No one, maybe not even Steven Adler, saw that coming.
The opening bars of the title track evoke memories of Cinderella-style blues rock and Skid Row’s “Monkey Business,” planting Adler (the band) firmly in late '80s classic rock territory. That itself is no surprise, but the sheer quality of the songs is unexpected given the numerous emotional car wrecks of the back story.
Kudos must go to lead vocalist and chief songwriter Jacob Bunton, who has crafted an album of super-high quality songs. Credit is due to Adler himself as well; never the greatest of drum technicians, he has finally found a vehicle for his talent and surrounded himself with genuinely gifted musicians, where once there were only dealers and hangers-on.
Back From The Dead doesn’t really have a weak link and it’s testament to the strength of the material that the guest appearances from John 5 and Slash wouldn’t have been missed. Mention must be made of album highlights “Own Worst Enemy,” which walks the same path as Crue’s criminally under-rated Corabi-era, and “Another Version Of The Truth,” which combines the perfect pop hooks of Cheap Trick, Redd Kross and The Wildhearts with a contemporary attack Alter Bridge would be proud of.
Steven Adler has drunk the last chance saloon dry too many times to screw it up again. No longer a walking disaster area or warning about the perils of excess, Adler has made an album that isn’t only vastly superior to Chinese Democracy, but perhaps better than anything Slash has put out with Myles Kennedy. Yeah, it’s really that good.
(released November 27, 2012 on New Ocean Media)