JULIAN ANGEL’S BEAUTIFUL BEAST
KICK DOWN THE BARRICADES
Released on January 24, 2014 (Platinum Blonde Records)
01. Bad Boys Never Dance
02. Big Stuff
03. Can’t Stand The Fiction
04. Shock ‘Em Dead
05. The Night Cries For You
07. Kick Down The Barricades
08. Shake Me Back Home
09. High On Love
10. Six In The Red
Julian Angel – vocals and guitar
Frank McDouglas – bass and backing vocals
Ramy Ali – drums, percussion and backing vocals
Recorded by Rolf Munkes.
It should be no secret to anyone that has read a review of mine in the past seven years that I am not only a staunch supporter of Julian Angel‘s musical endeavors (because everything he’s done is just that cool), but a man crush is more than likely blossoming. That said, it will come as no surprise that the latest effort from Angel‘s late ’80s incanting super-band Beautiful Beast has taken what many consider quintessential AOR and hard rock releases, 2011’s Adult Oriented Candy and 2012’s California Suntan, and enhanced them by adding the third installment in what I am calling the holy trilogy of hair metal — Kick Down The Barricades. You can’t, and I triple dog dare you to try, spin Kick Down The Barricades and not get a barb or ten stuck in you from this tackle box full of hook-laden hair rock essentials.
Julian Angel and company are playing with a fervor fueled by good ol’ fashion ’80s hard rock that is only eclipsed by the frontman’s passion for all things ’80’s. Angel states he and his mates are “Hair Metal Traditionalists” and it certainly rings true here with the album’s title track, “Shock ‘Em Dead” and “Unsexy”. Beautiful Beast are not only paying homage to many bands from that lost era, but breathe new life into a genre that is looking for a new chairman of the board — and I know we’ve found him in Julian Angel. Standouts are real hard to delineate as the whole album is great, but I am really digging “Shake Me Back Home”, as it has that Junkyard “Simple Man” vibe to it that really hits home with me along with a nifty Rolling Stones vocal bit, and “Six In The Red”, a Ratt inspired David Lee Roth “Goin’ Crazy” number that gets my number two nod. But that’s today, and truth be told there are ten solid gold songs on this record that could, can, and will, interchange as favorite of the day I’m sure.
When it comes to what Beautiful Beast is laying down think Steel Panther and their uncanny ability to take a riff, or a bit of a familiar melody from a classic ’80s rock cut, and spin it around into a new tune that you’re instantly humming and thinking that you’ve known for years — which you kind of have. Angel does this effortlessly on Kick Down The Barricades. As I spin the disc over and over writing this review I’ve caught two handfuls of familiar riffs, harmonies and/or vocal arrangements that confirms this theory.
Musically Julian Angel is a still the zen riff master he’s always been — plain and simple. That guy not only can shred like no other, but he writes songs that are so layered with tempo changes, fills and noodlings that the fans and players alike can’t help but be taken aback by what he makes look effortless and simple — catchy is an absolute understatement. Bottom end detail is provided by Frank McDouglas and Ramy Ali, two musical visionaries that can not only keep up with Angel musically and rhythmically, but add vocal harmonizing that would make Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott consider adding new members to his crew.
Without a doubt Kick Down The Barricades is another standout release from a truly stand-up musician who has an uncanny ability to craft songs that hearken back to a better time. A time when we all were a bit thinner, not just on our heads, and life was quite a bit simpler — when all we needed was some muddy guitar, loud rock ‘n’ roll, a sixer or two, and a couple of friends to share them with down by the river while listening to some ‘Beautiful Blonde Beast’ wailing out of the boom-box. But that kids, is another story…
Reviewed by Terry Martinson for Sleaze Roxx, February 2014