MICHAEL GRANT & THE ASSASSINS – Always the Villain
Former L.A. Guns guitarist Michael Grant recently released this energetic output of his via Frontiers Records and this is one of those raw and raunchy records that is quite difficult to classify or categorize.
In many ways, “Always the Villain” is a modern-sounding hard rock album that sounds current while simultaneously paying tribute to some of the all-time greats from the late 80s and early 90s. Then again, there are countless other influences coursing through these eleven tracks, some of which remind this writer of punk rock, which is pretty cool. Mr. Grant clearly has a knack for conjuring up solid vocal hooks and strong riffs, and there is an impressive sense of drive and determination to this loud rock ‘n’ roll affair, but it is somewhat uneven. The most potent and memorable cuts include the gritty album opener “Barrel of a Gun”, the uplifting “Anthem of Us”, the punchy “Break Me With U”, and the thrilling “Killing Me Softly”, but then there are fillers such as “Nightmare”, “Runaway (Can You Stand the Rain)”, and “Gimme Salvation” that come across as pedestrian and uninspired. In other words, we are dealing with a bit of a mixed bag here, but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives and I dig the variety of the material and the fact that Grant defies categorization and throw so many different things into his electric and eclectic musical melting pot.
There are some fabulous, fist-pumping tunes to be found on “Always the Villain”, so despite the album not being as solid with respect to quality and coherence as it could have been, it is worth looking into and checking out if you are on the lookout for a good-sounding rock record with a cool twist to it. One can easily tell that a lot of heart and soul went into crafting it.