Perhaps a more appropriate title for this sophomore effort from LA rockers Buckcherry might have been Time Machine, as a journey back to the late 1980s is exactly where Time Bomb will take you. Full of snarling, sleazy riffs and the rasping vocals of Joshua Todd, Time Bomb is a throwback to the pre Limp Bizkit carefree days of tattoos, leather and low-slung Gibsons when Guns N’ Roses and Mötley Crüe ruled the roost.
Yet while the washed up bands of that era struggle to find an audience, Buckcherry has somehow managed to find a respectable measure of success after 1998’s self titled debut album sold more than 500,000 copies on the back of the highly controversial single “Lit Up”, which contained the Tipper Gore-unfriendly refrain of “I love the cocaine, I love the cocaine”.
Even though the Cherrys still don’t manage to outdo the attitude of their apparent idols Guns N’ Roses, at least on “Slit My Wrists” and the delightfully aggressive “Porno Star” (sample lyric: “Don’t you know we fuck for money / I’m a big dick mother fuckin’ porno star”), they make a damn good stab at it.
John Travis’ production may have polished the raw sound of the debut record a little, but the majority of the tunes are still as slamming and explosive as the title suggests. Notable standouts being the ferocious opener “Frontside” and the enjoyable AC/DC rip-off first single “Ridin”.
The thing is, Time Bomb dilutes the process of enjoying these highly infectious songs by worshipping at the drum riser of many a hard rock hero from yesteryear. The trashy “Place in the Sun” and “Underneath” suggest that the New York Dolls and other vintage rock bands form a large part of Buckcherry’s record collection. Meanwhile the title track is filled with every metal cliché in the book and even employs the huge gang vocals the 80s virtually trademarked. Then “You” recalls the kind of countrified rock ballad a Where Are They Now? band called Junkyard used to specialise in, and you realise that however likeable their sound may be, it’s not entirely original.
As if to salvage a bit of individuality, the band ensure as non-metal an instrument as a mandolin makes a fleeting appearance on semi-ballad “Helpless” and the album comes to a surprisingly sedate close in the form of a piano based ballad, which as nice as it is, isn’t exactly anything new.
That Buckcherry has made a success of its recycled ‘70s and ‘80s influences in the year 2001 deserves only the highest of praise and fans of hard rock will undoubtedly love this album. On the other hand, they might not be fooled by Todd’s ironic assertion that “the best thing about Time Bomb is that when people hear it they’ll go ‘It’s Buckcherry!’”. Time Bomb? What Goes Around Comes Around is more like it.
// Notes from the Road
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