EXTREME — Six (review)

EXTREME — Six album cover Album · 2023 · Hard Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
Of all the comeback artists to drop an album in 2023 after a lengthy absence, the Boston based EXTREME is not a band i expected ever to hear from again. Best known for their funkified glammy pop rock albums that caught the tail end of the 1980s and the early 1990s just before grunge stole glam metal’s thunder, EXTREME was quite successful in its day producing top 10 singles and selling millions of albums but after the alternative 90s hit hard the band sort of slowly but quietly went away. The band did make a surprise return with its rather subdued 2008 album “Saudades de Rock” but i’d bet nobody thought they’d ever hear the likes of vocalist Gary Cherone and guitarist Nuno Bettencourt cranking out fiery EXTREME songs ever again. At least i didn’t!

Well here they are in 2023 with their sixth album, titled…. well, SIX! While the album title doesn’t leave a lot to get excited about, i’m pleasantly surprised that the album is exactly what EXTREME fans have been wanting to hear ever since “III Sides To Every Story.” Yes the band has given up trying to be something they never intended to be (as heard on the lackluster alt metal insincerity on 1995’s “Waiting For The Punchline). SIX finds the band getting back to their hard rock / heavy metal roots and cranking out all those thumping rocking grooves, thundering riffs, exquisite vocal harmonies and a few surprises thrown in for good measure. Likewise it wouldn’t be an EXTREME album without a ballad two and SIX checks off that box as well!

While retro 80s hard rock isn’t exactly my thing, i have to say that this band sounds better than i ever expected they could at this point. Sure SIX lacks the pyrotechnic guitar wizardry of EXTREME’s first two releases and the songwriting isn’t quite up to snuff either but for someone well over 60, lead vocalist Gary Cherone’s vox box has held up quite well. I’ve always considered EXTREME a very talented band but one that tried to tackle more than it could handle. While the musicianship and harmonic constructs were light years ahead of the average glam metal band of the era, the band for the most part suffered a continuity problem trying to shove too many disparate ideas into an album. While SIX does sound like it has solved that problem in terms of not getting too ahead of themselves in many ways (especially with the slower tracks) the album sounds like a direct descendent of 2008’s “Saudades de Rock.”

The fiery “Rise” opens the album with a thundering roar announcing EXTREME is back and ready to rock your world but the album soon begins to taper off in quality with tender ballads like “Small Town Beautiful” showing the band can’t quite muster up those utterly infectious ear worms any longer. Amazingly this band finds 3 out of the 4 originals back on duty with only drummer Paul Geary missing but Kevin Figueriedo returns on drum duties from the bands previous album of 15 long years ago. Bettencourt shows he can still play like a mother fucker but unfortunately since “Pornograffiti” he has been loath to shred like a beast and thus is too restrained for my liking. Just let loose, dude! In fact that’s been the problem with most of the later EXTREME albums is the band just got too restrained for its own good.

While much of the album is substandard to classic EXTREME, a few tracks like “Save Me” are every bit as good as anything from the past with strong crunchy grooves, instantly catchy melodies and performances to match including a sizzling Nuno styled guitar solo. If only there were more tracks on board like this. As far as ballads go on the album, i can live without them but “Hurricane” is the exception with a beautiful arpeggiated acoustic guitar performance and those classic vocal harmonies not heard since the 1990 smash hit “More Than Words.” The band uses keyboards on “Thicker Than Blood” and “X Out” but they seem wasted due to the fact the tracks are fairly generic. The ska flavored “Beautiful Girls” insinuates a Van Halen cover but provides a track completely out of character.

Highlights are “Rise,” “The Mask,” the guitar solo on “Thicker Than Blood” and “Save Me.” Well don’t expect EXTREME to have undergone a transformation into a totally new band of the 21st century! No way. This is EXTREME looking to its past for ideas not expressed some 30 years ago. In many ways this album could’ve easily come out in the early 90s as there is nothing to indicate that it is a modern creation. While i wasn’t expecting anything spectacular the album is better than i was expecting. While this hardly competes with EXTREME at its peak much less the legions of metal and hard rock that have come out since, SIX is a nice fun ride bringing a glimpse of simpler times to those not familiar with the band’s previous output. There are some really brilliant tracks on this one but also quite a bit of filler too however i have to give them credit for keeping it together all these decades.
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Nightfly wrote:
4 months ago
As you say a lot of filler but a few good tracks.

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