Bitten is as subtle as men's room graffiti. The point is blatantly obvious by the time "Scream" comes around. The New Jersey band have jettisoned the progressive lean-forward dilly-dallying of their last album Spider Rockets, and have taken a serious moon shot at conservative loud rock. Radio programmers should prepare to clear space in their top 10 rotation for "Scream" and "Better When It's Loud," in which Cos declares "subtlety is over-rated, at least on me I got no patience."
Cos is not a howler nor a growler. She centers the band simply by singing. Nap's guitars and keyboards are pure classic rock. Cos and Nap are old-school smart and unabashed in their respect for their musical elders.
Producer Eric Rachel, who was on board for the previous album, puts on his cleanest lab coat to assume the role of hit doctor. He is ably assisted by co-producer Ryan Sambrook. Together, they have trimmed off any art-school bloat from Bitten's 10 songs, and irradiated the album with a super dose of garage rock rowdiness. Bitten is an album that cruises best around two o'clock on the volume knob. Nuance has been neutered which leaves classic up-front vocals and hard-hat guitar work to get the job done.
"Break" is a top-flight rock rhythm workout. Loud rock, which is the genre unfit for Starbucks but fine for satellite radio, gets pushed aside each time the Pat Benatar/Martha Davis-style chorus pops up. The ‘80s are well represented on the album, with nods to AC/DC, Vixen, Heart and even Golden Earring. The album includes a modern era version of "Twilight Zone." The Spider Rockets give it a lithe, energetic and very straightforward reproduction of the old warhorse often heard on the not-so-oldies stations.
Bitten's closer "Bring Me Around" is quite interesting. Benatar and the Wilson Sisters are given much respect on the song. Their influence permeates the arrangement which manages to be inventive as well as the album's most adventurous.
Bitten is a loud rock record that pulls no punches, hides no cards, revels in the heritage of FM guitar bands and doesn't stray from the traditional formula. Beautifully mixed for the market by Florida's Zach Ziskin, Bitten especially has a fine bottom end rarely heard in recent metal albums. It won't crush skulls or burn churches, but it will satisfy that fundamental need for open-minded metal heads to rock hard.
(released June 5, 2012 on P-Dog Records)