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Hootenanny Freaks - Eyes of the Warrior

Hootenanny Freaks
Eyes of the Warrior
by Leanne "Metal Maiden" Evans at 02 December 2021, 7:19 PM

Veteran rock ‘n’ rollers HOOTENANNY FREAKS have been rollicking our ears with their 70’s and 80’s hard rock blend since 1997. The Finnish rockers are back again with their latest album, “Eyes of the Warrior”, dishing out healthy servings of simple but catchy riffs and lashings of thunderous rhythms that have heads rolling. The band haven’t shied away from pushing their sound over different sonic barriers, so you can expect to hear a range of soundscapes throughout the album, ranging from typical hard rock, to AOR and even Glam flavours. Over the ten tracks, there’s quite the experience to be had, some tracks standing out more than others, with the band’s kooky identity shining along the way.

The nuances of the latest release range from the full frontal, hard rocking likes of “Down to Drain”, which pummels and pelts from the get-go, through to AOR aspects in the likes of “Night Train”, which brings infectious melodies, well-placed keys and a nostalgic 80’s feel that takes you right back. The title-track “Eyes of the Warrior” takes the reminiscent 80’s aspect quite a few notches further, with a few cliché key changes, bold solos, temporal shifts, pulling a Native American-inspired flavour with the keys. The backing vocals don’t always lend themselves to enhancing the track, almost becoming a distraction, weakening the cut, perhaps diluting it a little too much to be the “tour de force” behind the album, and a questionable choice to carry the weight of the record.

However, HOOTENANNY FREAKS, when they get it right, they nail it! “Girl on Fire” has all the attitude of W.A.S.P, shrouded by a deep and dirty bass line that really pumps the muck into this slice of filth. The rhythm section works in fantastic synergy, guitars lasciviously licking, drums pumping, and even the lyrics focusing on sex, drugs and naughtiness. HOOTENANNY FREAKS redeem with this track being the standout of “Eyes of the Warrior”. The glam aspect of the sonic spectrum continues to shine in “Are You Ready”, with a WARRANT feel, moving into the slightly heavier output of “Shadows in Paradise”, with a rhythm that bounds, merging into the catchy foot-tapper “Isolation”. If carefree energy is what you’re after, then your greedy lugholes will be pleased as punch with HOOTENANNY FREAKS’ offerings thus far.

The last section of “Eyes of the Warrior” is varied, almost lending to a lack of consistency with the rest of the album. “I Don’t Care” and “Die Happy” are still synergistic compositions that suit the previous tracks, serving up catchy choruses, easy-listening lyrics and melodic vocals, with IGGY POP twists at times. Whilst they’re not the most rambunctious cuts going, they’re still enjoyable and offer enough substance to get your teeth into. Now, this is where HOOTENANNY FREAKS go a little too off piste for my liking, and, while we all appreciate every great hard rock album needs a sterling ballad, “Gone” is too far removed from complementing the “Eyes of the Warrior”. There’s no real bite or grit, which you could argue aren’t entirely elements that should be sought in a ballad, but the lack of guitars and primary focus on the keys only detract from the meatiness the rest of the tracks delivered. In short, “Gone” doesn’t so much as bookend the album, rather it’s a damp squib that leaves you feeling a little deflated and disappointed.

Understanding the rest of HOOTENANNY FREAKS’ catalogue, I’m all too aware of their abilities and talent, aspects that are still abundant in this release. Unfortunately, there are also too many moments where the band feel restrained or where certain elements don’t gel, ultimately impacting the overall score. Still, if you’re happy to skip a few tracks and enjoy the belters that the guys really do get SO right, this is worth listening to.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Down to Drain
2. Night Train
3. Eyes of the Warrior
4. Girl on Fire
5. Are You Ready
6. Shadows in Paradise
7. Isolation
8. I Don’t Care
9. Die Happy
10. Gone
Lineup:
Pepe Tamminen – Vocals
Esko Kemell – Guitars
Aapo “Api” Häyrinen – Guitars, Keyboards
Marko “Montte” Leino – Bass
Marko Kuurne - Drums
Record Label: Secret Entertainment
     


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