Horns And Halos – Michael Monroe

Released 23rd August 2013 on Spinefarm Records

Glam-Rock/ Hard Rock/ Heavy Metal

horns and halos

Finnish glam-rock and hair-metal mainstay Michael Monroe’s ninth solo album Horns And Halos is a thumping, pumping retreat to the eye-shadow and platform shoes of the eighties, but I’ve got to say that it really isn’t all that bad. Kicking off the delightfully unashamed retro rock of TNT Diet and not backing down one single bit from here the whole album is just a whole load of good rocking fun. Of course, it’s not really anything special as I’ve heard pretty much the same music a hundred times before from every teenager with a can of hairspray and a guitar, but it is nice to hear one of the original heavy glitter-rockers continuing on without letting up even a little.

I mean, Monroe’s homage to the mean streets in Ballad Of The Lower East Side is actually believable in its grunginess despite the fact Monroe is presumably swimming in money by this point in his career, and Hands Are Tied just works so well with all its clichés and predictability. The solos are ridiculous, the melodies are pure nonsense, and almost every song sounds like the last, but somehow this all seems to mesh together into a record that really is just a lot of fun. It’s like being able to relive your teenage fascination with Motley Crue with a whole new record full of music, which normally I wouldn’t think was a good idea, but with this record I just found myself smiling along and drumming against the table with whatever I had handy.

This being said, the record does dissolve into tedium and really begins to drag when Monroe tries his hand at writing a slow track to give this record some balance. Stained Glass Heart, for instance, is really nothing more than four and a half minutes of absolute boredom and Ritual was nearly enough to send me to sleep. Some of the other tracks (notable the title track and Half The Way) also don’t really reach the heights of hard rocking energy that we were given earlier on this album. It all seemed to get a bit serious, at which time I was fully unable to take anything even a little bit seriously. I mean, how can I really listen to a fifty-one year old in lipstick and looking in as good a state as his leather tights and still take it seriously? The answer is I can’t, and that’s fine when Monroe is just having some fun, but any revolution-rock message in here was completely lost behind my insistent giggles.

Now, the music isn’t necessarily bad as such, it’s just that it’s the same music that Monroe’s been playing for the last thirty years, and at this point it’s got to be pretty thumping before it can actually keep me interested. I heard this with the solid riffs and self-conscious crooning at the start of the record, but after track four most of this disappeared. Maybe this record would have broken some ground and been able to garner some modicum of lastability if it was released in 1984, but as an album of 2013 it’s pretty bland and forgettable even if it does have a couple solidly fun tracks on it.

All in all though I have to say that it really wasn’t terrible, it just bored me somewhat. I mean, at no point was I so annoyed with the music that I actively wanted to turn it off, but neither was I interested enough to listen to it more than two or three times. There were a couple of tracks that did catch my attention, but overall this album didn’t really go anywhere and there just wasn’t enough good stuff on it to have any decent amount of fun. I guess the charm of cliché and retro-riffs wears off in a pretty short amount of time, and it is for this reason that I’m going to make the call that it really won’t last. I can see people returning again and again to the older Hanoi Rocks records (although I wouldn’t recommend it), but this I can’t see anyone giving more than a cursory glance at.

RATING: **/5


And here is the clip for Ballad Of The Lower East Side, one of the more fun retro-rock tracks from Horns And Halos.


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