THE CRUEL INTENTIONS
Released on June 3, 2022 (Indie Recordings)
I was introduced to Vains of Jenna via Metal Sludge and, ultimately, from the Poison tour they were the opening act for in the late 2000’s. While I liked the Vains of Jenna sound, I must admit that I wasn’t as big of a fan of those albums as I was of lead singer Lizzy Devine‘s comeback album with his new band The Cruel Intentions just a couple of years ago. I love the sleazy, dirty sound that feels right at home for a fan of the 80’s Sunset Strip scene. That first album, called No Sign of Relief, really nailed that sound with a 21st century kick in the pants. With that being said, the question remained — could a follow-up to a debut album that was so well received by all who heard it live up to expectations? The answer is a resounding yes!
No Sign of Relief was difficult to get a copy of. In fact, it was through a friend I made via my ties to Sleaze Roxx that I was able to get my hands on one — thank you Todd Myers! I had hoped and, I’ll admit, expected Venomous Anonymous to be an easier get since I was on it early and since the band was no longer an unknown entity. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. Unless you ordered it directly from the band’s official site and got your copy in early June, you were stuck with the usual retailers online to try and get your hands on a tangible copy. I want CD format so I tried to order from Amazon. When that went nowhere fast, I cancelled that order and got it from an Amazon seller from the UK. About a month later — a freaking month later — it showed up in my mailbox.
So, for this reason I’ll editorialize a compliment to Frontiers Music Srl, which often gets kicked in the pants by artists and even some fans. In addition to Frontiers delivering some of the best albums we’ve been able to get from both new artists and our veteran favorites, they also have a great distribution to where if you want to get the album, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and all the other retailers actually have the tangible format album, CD, to ship out! Between Crashdïet leaving Frontiers and having to wait a month for their new album earlier this year and now this, I might suggest bands stick with or sign with Frontiers even if there are certain headaches involved in the process. Because, causing headaches for an anxiously awaiting public, of which I’m in so I can speak to, results in us being annoyed with the process and potentially less willing to go through the hassle for the next album. Of course, the elephant in the room could be my desire to own the content on CD as digital and, for reasons that make exactly n0 sense to me, vinyl seem to be the in vogue thing right now.
Anyway, now that I’ve gotten through the story of getting the album, lets get to the record itself! The album kicks off with perhaps the most modern sounding track called “Reapercussion”. While the grooving verse approaches a style of music I hope the band doesn’t go, the rock and roll vibes of this track overshadow elements that might cause an old school rocker’s concerns. The title track is up next and has a very Sunset Strip vibe mixed with a little New Jersey flavor. What do I mean by that? Well, the “Nanananana” sounds a little bit like the haunting chorus of Bon Jovi‘s “Born to be My Baby.” By the way, I danced to that song with my wife at my wedding… So, I might kind of like it! The lead in to the guitar solo has a little bit of W.A.S.P. influence reminding me a little of “Wild Child” or a more modern W.A.S.P. track “Mercy”, perhaps “Crazy.” All are in that same realm. Very catchy chorus and good lyrics that are timely with there even being talk about quarantine. One of these days, we’ll all go to our closet find a Covid mask in our leather jacket pockets and think, “Boy, what a strange time that was.” Then, put the mask down, pick up and axe, and join the post-apocalyptic war already in progress.
“Sunset Strip” is next and I must admit this is my favorite song on the album. From a healthy nod to the geography of West Hollywood including and especially the Rainbow Bar & Grill to a great set of guitar hooks and a chorus that will have you singing it in the show days later, this one is a hit. “Casket Case” is next. The lyrics are very brooding and almost downtrodden. Typically, and as a rule, I don’t like songs like that. But, these ones are laced in a little bit of piss and vinegar. What I shouldn’t like, I love. What a great song! “Kerosene” is up next. “Light it up, light it up, light it up” is the lead in to the chorus and it fits. It fits both because it revs you up but it also reminds you that elements of this song and “Casket Case” somewhat reminds you of the band Lit from the late 1990’s. Lit are not one of my favorites but one of a few bands from that period. Very catchy track here, though, with a lot of great hooks and a great chorus. The album uses a lot of great harmonies and chorus work that has become a big staple of the Swedish new wave of sleaze rock.
Next up is a slower track in what I have to assume is Swedish. “Salt I Ditt Sår” is the title and that translates to “Salt In Your Wound”. The song sounds fine. I don’t speak the language so I must admit, I skip it every time. Not for me. I am surprised there are not more Swedish language songs by these bands. But, I’m also grateful that there aren’t. “Final Deathroll” puts the album back on track. This is a very fast paced rocker that reminds me of Bang Tango‘s song “Don’t Count Me Out” from the Love After Death album. Very catchy and it really explores Lizzy‘s strange yet incredible delivery. “Goddamn Monday” is the song Danny Rexon of Crazy Lixx is probably mad he didn’t write first. Of course, I say that because there is a little bit of a Crazy Lixx flare to this track with an incredible chorus. Great track! The Beach Boys had “Good Vibrations” but The Cruel Intentions have “Bad Vibes”. Reminding me a little bit of early Mötley Crüe, perhaps “On With The Show” from the Too Fast For Love album, this track has a great and catchy verse and chorus. As I said earlier, Lizzy has a gifted way of saying something in a unique way that makes it even better than the line itself. See Vince Neil for another example of that skill. And as the song says, I’m in love with this rock and roll!
“Chemical Vacation” might have been a better choice for the name of this album as this song kicks some serious ass. Complete with a killer stutter intro to the chorus — “Get me out of here, ga-ga-ga-get me out of here!” — and a Crazy Lixx “21 Till I Die” chorus to it, this song easily could’ve been the title of the album and stood up well as the title track. “City of Lice” wraps the album and does so leaving you begging for more. It would not surprise me if this song was originally planned for No Sign of Relief and was simply held back. Much like the rest of the tracks, it has so many hooks both on guitar as well as with Lizzy‘s delivery that you can’t help but at least hum along if not sing along. Great stuff.
So, did the album live up to the debut? I’d say so. The debut album had a balls out vibe to it with “Jawbreaker”, “Reckoning”, “Borderline Crazy”, and “Go Fuck Yourself” being songs that I’ve kept on my playlist for the past few years. This album has a little bit of everything but stays true to Lizzy‘s strengths which is a sound that seems locked in time to that early Sunset Strip 80’s metal scene with a very Too Fast For Love inspired sound. While there are a few songs that delve into other sounds a touch including a little bit of late 90’s punky pop, the finished product is an album that all sleaze rockers, especially fans of the LA scene, should pick up. It is great and well worth the wait if you have to order it and wait for an unknown amount of time to actually get it. These guys really get it.
02. Venomous Anonymous
03. Sunrise Over Sunset
04. Casket Case
06. Salt I Ditt Sår
07. Final Deathroll
08. Goddamn Monday
09. Bad Vibes
10. Chemical Vacation
11. City of Lice
Lizzy DeVine – vocals, guitar
Kristian Solhaug – guitar
Mats Wernerson – bass
Robin Nilsson – drums
The Cruel Intentions‘ “Venomous Anonymous” video:
The Cruel Intentions‘ “Kerosene” video:
The Cruel Intentions‘ “Reapercussion” video: