THE END MACHINE – Phase 2
The End Machine, which is comprised of past and present members from Foreigner and Dokken among others, offers riff-based hard rock that harkens back to the 70s and 80s but without sounding even remotely dated or like a relic from the past. In fact, the sound, production, and overall presentation of "Phase 2" are relatively modern to these ears, and the veteran musicians have carved out an album that is inspired by some of the legendary rockers of old while simultaneously looking to the future, which is pretty cool.
There is also a sense of something subtly raw and gritty to this 12-track affair that appeals to me. Having said that, this is unfortunately a lackluster musical output that is way too uneven in terms of quality and substance, and that is my main gripe with this offering. This is a well-produced disc, but sadly, too many tunes are unremarkable and there are several parts and passages that are even downright forgettable, which is incredibly frustrating. It lacks truly memorable songs and for some reason the hooks and melodies are simply not as infectious as they could have been. However, there are a couple of gems to be found here, namely the dark and somewhat moody "Crack the Sky" as well as the melancholy yet catchy "Prison or Paradise", but the rest of the tracks leave something to be desired in terms of depth and longevity.
The sound is wicked, the musicianship is superb, and the album artwork looks killer too, but the compositions are not as good as they should have been, and "Phase 2" is a slightly underwhelming experience. I had high hopes for this one, but ultimately it is a disappointing listen.