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Bite The Bullet – End Of The Line

Bite The Bullet
End Of The Line
by Mark Machlay at 30 March 2022, 5:53 AM

After a recent return last year with an album of ideas that may have taken decades to finally reach the public, BITE THE BULLET appear eager to capitalize on their recent resurgence with an album of new material less than a year after their previous album with “End of the Line”. The group was originally formed in 1986 by singer/songwriter Mick Benton and drummer Graham Cowling. The two met when they both joined West London rock band MOTHER’S RUIN in 1984. They managed to secure a deal with the legendary progressive rock icon Greg Lake at Atlantic Records and released their self-titled full-length debut in 1989. While the material was warmly received and even earned some radio airplay, the rise of Britpop at the time along with a cancelled support slot with ELO saw the band disheartened. While the group never formally broke up, there was a long period of inactivity. The pair always remained friends, still playing pubs and clubs over the years but eventually, their debut would be reissued in 2019 which ignited the flame to start again.

They quickly got to work on what would be BITE THE BULLET’s second album “Black & White” which resulted in much praise amongst fans of AOR and melodic rock. They have been described as “MR. MISTER meets ASIA”, bringing a familiar sound into the modern era. Not even a year later, they are back with another album, and it makes me wonder why they remained away for so long if they contain such prolificacy. Obviously, the pandemic is a looming influence and why we see bands releasing a flood of new material since even now, touring and live shows remain a bit iffy for some people. The question now is, are they able to pull off a great third album after a fresh resurgence and a strong second album that received almost universal praise for its originality.

Unfortunately, to my ears, “End Of The Line” dips a bit in quality from their sophomore album but BITE THE BULLET’s third release still contains enough earworms that it remains enticing throughout its runtime. It comes out of the gate with a rather bland attempt at radio friendly AOR hooks in “Quicksand”, beginning with a classical guitar intro that soon gives way to typical AOR hooky guitars and a straight-ahead rock feel that just didn’t feel too inspired to me. “Over Me” continues this feeling and while the hook is trapped in the 80s, it doesn’t feel like it made it into the modern age like the recordings did on their last album. The heavier, chuggy rockers like “End of the Line” and the heart-thrilling “Base Jumping” do give me hopes to carry me through the album while the more ballad-like tracks – “Lost for Words” and 80s synth and bells-drenched “Camaraderie” – show off the subtle delicacy that vocalist Mick Benton can bring, they were few and far between.  Listening to the rest of BITE THE BULLET’s catalog, I don’t want to rate “End Of The Line” too harshly and with how quickly they are now releasing material, I doubt we have long to wait for new material and a new chance to be wowed.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 6
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

1. Quicksand
2. Over You
3. End of the line
4. Cold Wind
5. Roundabout
6. Lost for Words
7. September Sun
8. Band of Brothers
9. Let it Go
10. Camaraderie
11. Base Jumping
12. Sunflowers and Roses
Mick Benton – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Bass & Keyboards
Graham Cowling – Drums
Malcolm Jones – Guitar
Record Label: Escape Music


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