Wednesday, March 5, 2014

RECORD REVIEW: Asphalt Valentine "Into the Red"

Into the Red

Simply put, this crunchy, 
Georgia-based combo is 
high-octane hybrid
Velvet Revolver-meets-
Kings of Leon. And their 
latest record is lethal!

I receive and read a lot of band press releases. And quite often, they are at best, kinda dopey. But, in the case of Asphalt Valentine, their bio truly captured the essence of the band and described their sophomore record perfectly — the attitude of punk, the decadence of glam, the melody of pop, the blare of hard rock and the naiveté of youth. I was intrigued. Hmm. Okay, push play button.

Packing the authentic guts and gusto of any arena rock classic, Into the Red kicks off strong with "Bullet for My Revolution." Its Randy California-style "I Got a Line on You" guitar riff combined with Joe Flynt's Sebastian Bach-inspired vocals, hits ya like a punch to the rib cage.

What separates the men from the boys, or in this case, Asphalt Valentine from the sea of wannabes is the strength of their songs. And nowhere on the record is that more evident than "City of Halos." Musically, the track balances an acoustic-based "Every Rose"-caliber charm, with a guitar-driven modern rock edge. Vocally, Flynt closes the deal nicely.

Seemingly having borrowed Mötley Crüe's touring strippers in the off season, the video for the record's lead single, "Living Dreams," projects a turbo-charged lesson in rock and roll debauchery. Although it's a message to which I no longer connect personally, I can certainly recognize the world-class production quality of the video, the top notch songwriting and the band's undeniable rock star cred. A stand-out track, to be sure.

Unfortunately, the band does kinda shoot themselves in the foot, as the strongest track on the record, the most hard-hitting, infectious, sing-along nugget of the bunch has a title that will most assuredly keep it OFF commercial radio airwaves. In fact, I won't even print the title here — which is a particular bummer, since they were probably only one word away from a hit record.

But otherwise, Asphalt Valentine gets it right. Into the Red sounds "big" — big guitars, big drums, big vocals, big attitude and big hooks. The songwriting, musicianship and production exhibited throughout is simply superb — far outshining the majority of the iconic hard rock records that most certainly inspired the band.

-Christopher Long
(March 2014)

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