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Hurtsmile - Hurtsmile (CD) Award winner

by Mike Novak at 09 January 2011, 7:01 PM

To be honest, when I was assigned HURTSMILE’s debut, I was completely unaware that it was the new project of EXTREME singer Gary Cherone. He is collaborating with his brother Mark, along with fellow Bostonians Joe Pessia and Dana Spellman, the latter of which played in EXTREME guitarist Nuno Bettencourt’s solo band. Even after hearing it, I did not realize that Cherone was behind the mic, because he sounds so different from his days as a David Lee Roth clone.

I basically had to force myself through the first few listens, almost writing it off as painfully generic hard-rock. Thankfully, this definitely grew on me the more I listened to it. It’s obvious that there is strong chemistry between Gary and Mark. Mark definitely sounds like a guitarist with something to prove. He often eschews guitar flash in favor of creating solid foundations for songs (there are a few good solos to be found). Do not expect any heavy metal here, this is mostly hard rock. There are a few forays into other genres, like Gospel, which are not particularly successful.

Gary Cherone has matured past the point of sounding like a David Lee Roth clone, however, there are times where he sounds too similar to other singers, like Brent Smith of SHINEDOWN on a few songs as well as Bob Dylan on the album closer, “The Murder of Daniel Faulkner.” In general, though, he does a fine job of singing and even writes some thought-provoking lyrics. One of the best examples is also one of the best songs musically, “The Murder of Daniel Faulkner,” which tells the story of a police officer who was brutally murdered in 1984. Somehow, the person who murdered him has become a recipient of a cause, where people actually believe that the murderer was framed by Philadelphia police. This laughable stance has mostly been taken up by Hollywood celebrities, university students and professors, and members of other logic-deprived groups here in the USA. It’s refreshing to see a musician not taking the side of idiocy for once.

I’m really glad I gave HURTSMILE a few extra chances, because I now enjoy it enough that I’ll probably purchase a copy once it is released. It is nothing groundbreaking, but this is definitely something I would enjoy popping into my CD player once the weather warms up. I would take this over EXTREME’s last album any day, and while it is far from perfect, it is definitely worth a shot.

4 Star Rating

1. Just War Theory
2. Stillborn
3. Love Thy Neighbor
4. Kaffur (Infidel)
5. Painter Paint
6. Tolerance Song
7. Set Me Free
8. Jesus Would You Meet Me
9. Slave
10. Beyond The Garden / Kicking Against The Goads
11. Just War Reprise
12. The Murder Of Daniel Faulkner (4699)
Gary Cherone- Vocals
Markus Cherone- Guitars
Joe Pessia- Bass, Mandolin
Dana Spellman- Drums, Percussion
Record Label: Frontiers Records


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Edited 03 December 2022

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