REECE - review added 7th August 2009
Album Review: Universal Language (2009)
For fans of: Hard Rock... and Cluedo
Reece is built around the vocals of David Reece, best known as the one-time singer for Accept. David has been playing and recording for over 20 years and, according to his website, was brought up on a diet of Conway Twitty and Tammy Wynette. Hardly a recipe for a rock vocalist but, with his raucous gravelly style, he seems to have circumnavigated the perils of Country Music.
"My first Rock and Roll records were Deep Purple (Machine Head) and Alice Cooper (Schools Out). I remember listening to their music and staring at the LP covers for hours," he says, and you can certainly hear those influences. His music is classic and weighty, but there's a happy air to the sound... even in the more saddening moments. Put that down partly to the vocals, mostly to the production by co-writer and guitarist Andy Susemihl. Joining Andy and David are Jochen Fünders on bass and Stefan Schwarzmann on drums.
The songs vary between the distinctly average and the frankly superb. Opening track 'Before I Die' is a rock 'n' rolling start to the album. The bass drives the track along and the chorus is hugely memorable. It's an uplifting track and sets the bar at a soaring height. 'All The Way' is a likeable if unexciting track, whilst 'Flying Close To The Flame' is a fast paced number with a party atmosphere. David sounds not dissimilar to a lived-in version of Steve Newman... and that's a good thing.
'Fantasy Man' is a decent enough song, although the chorus borders on the land of cheese. 'The River' is a hard hitting track with an unusual, cool twang. It's reminiscent of Warrant's 'Uncle Tom's Cabin', but not so close the similarity grates. 'Rescue Me' is a cracking song with a speaker busting chorus. The verses are nothing special, but that climax is hugely powerful.
'Once In A Lifetime' is another track with a distinctly average verse boosted by a strong chorus. It sounds like it lacks energy but, with the way it builds, it ends as a strong entry. No such doubts about 'We Were Alive'. It's a monster with big scaly horns and a fire-filled bottom that could melt concrete. David gives it his everything and, on this evidence, he's got a lot to share.
The mid-paced rocker 'Flesh And Blood' keeps matters in positive territory. Ballad 'Queen Of My Dreams' follows it with a straight ahead, stripped back, no bullsh*t sound that's highly refreshing. It's a top song and contrasts superbly with the chest-beating sound of the rest of the album. 'Yellow' closes the album in a nutty and fun fashion. It's a song I want to hate but don't. Colonel Mustard has never been so cool.
This is definitely one of those albums that's close to brilliance but has too much padding to truly shine. The best songs are magnificent, but it could have done with a couple more recording/writing sessions to find a few more gems. As is, few people will come away from Universal Language disappointed; especially when you consider how strong the second half is.
Check out... The second half.