|TNT My Religion||MTM Music|
It's a tough call. Its 2004 – does a band attempt to recreate its glory days by returning to the sound fans have called for, or do they continue to try and update their sound in an attempt to reach new fans and appeal to programmers of today's rock.|
The best possible outcome is an album that is based around a band's classic sound, but yet manages to incorporate fresh new elements and updated production values to create a blend of the best both worlds. Take Danger Danger's last couple of albums as two of the best examples of this approach working in their favor.
Many bands that take this route fail due to poor songwriting. Regardless of style, you can't make a great record without memorable songs.
As is often the case, yesterday's best bands struggle to match their past form or move so far away from it that few are happy.
But not so TNT. After two quite experimental releases, My Religion sees the band make the toughest of calls – they have returned to their much loved classic sound, while not forsaking the advances they have made as songwriters and performers.
In short - they have nailed it.
My Religion is such a breath of fresh air; it will have others lining up to emulate its design and will be used as a yardstick for other releases for some time to come.
TNT have reached into their past and brought back the power, the style, the melodies and the harmonies from such classics as Tell No Tales and Intuition. They have mixed those elements with an updated and more contemporary production and a seriously rejuvenated kick-ass delivery.
The performances on this album are also something to behold. Tony Harnell has never sounded more powerful. What's really pleasing is the variety in Tony's vocals. He has a fabulous ability to deliver a gut wrenching growl one moment and an ear piercing scream the next. This album sees the return of the much loved high-pitch vocal and accompanying harmonies, especially come chorus time, but with new warmth and depth to the overall vocal. I seriously think Tony just gets better and better.
Ronni Le Tekro is also on fire. His guitar riffing is at times as heavy as it has ever been, really driving the songs of My Religion. Special mention of the soloing must be made. Within this album are some of the best guitar solos I have heard in many years and it's great to see an album with a contemporary feel, big choruses and guitar solos! Far too many artists have forgotten that this is an important aspect of any rock album.
And the rhythm section of Morty Black and Diesel Dahl have never sounded better.
The album features a collection of fabulous songs – they all have their unique individual identities, yet flow perfectly together and make up an extremely cohesive album.
The production quality is nothing short of a world beating, major label standard.
If only more albums sounded as good as this and had as much life and zest to them.
The album was produced by Ronni Le Tekro and Tony Harnell, but an important factor is the mix by famed producer Tommy Hansen. Tommy could not have done a better job of piecing the parts together and has balanced the vocals, guitars and the rhythm section perfectly.
The fact is that My Religion is a masterpiece. A perfect album. I just can't get enough of this. It's one of the very best I have had the pleasure of reviewing since I started this site and is easily one of the best melodic hard rock records in recent years. Whenever I have had to take a ride over the past 4 months, the only album that has come on every single journey has been this one.
And it's the whole package to…great artwork, great songs, great sound.
After several weeks of continuous playing, there are still new elements to the album to discover and as each week passes, a different track is named as favourite. There are several moods within the album, which keeps things really interesting and brings the listener back for more. It's musically interesting, quite complex and definitely challenging, yet remarkable accessible.
Track By Track:
I wouldn't call Invisible Noise a predictable album opener. It bursts out of a short intro with a trademark Harnell scream, before falling into a mid-tempo groove. Tony's vocals are powerful, yet subtle and the track features a simple but effective chorus melody. Add in some random guitar soloing and a mid-track break and you have a really interesting track.
She Needs Me is just killer - a real feel good anthem. This is one of my favourite TNT tracks ever. It features a dark and heavy guitar riff and a truly powerful lead vocal that simply explodes come chorus time, with a monster hook and that trademark high-pitch delivery. The beefed up rhythm section and dark and moody feel to the track accompany the song's theme perfectly. Surely this will be a main contender for Song Of The Year.
If She Needs Me is TNT 2004, Lonely Nights has the vibe of early TNT, with a style that wouldn't be out of place on Intuition. The chorus is another burst-through anthem, with more soaring vocals and a great Queen style guitar solo mid-track. A sing a long favourite and one of the more traditional style TNT tracks on the album.
My Religion is perfectly placed as the dark, hard-edged, aggressive rocker, with Ronni's guitar riffs right in your face. Tony's lead vocals have a menacing edge to them and take my word for it – don't stand anywhere near the speaker when he let's scream before the guitar solo. Ear bleeding stuff! One of the album's heaviest tracks and a fantastic example of a more aggressive and hard rocking TNT.
Fans will be familiar with Give Me A Sign – which was also featuring on last year's EP. This version has been remixed into character with the rest of the album, with a more prominent lead vocal and even more guitar further up in the mix. It was one of the two best tracks on the EP and fits in perfect context with the full album. Perfectly is the album's first ballad. This is classic Tony Harnell – powerful and soaring vocals take the track right over the top, especially during the sentimental chorus. The song starts acoustically and builds throughout, into a full band track by the end. There's a hint of Tony's Morning Wood project about this song.
After the ballad, You'll Be There gets things rocking again, with a strong mid-tempo pop rocker with a real groove and a happy go lucky feel to it. The chorus is very subtle, but gets better and more obvious with repeat listens and will be another favourite for melodic fans.
Flow is a brief acoustic segway into the moody hard rocker Live Today, another track from the EP. This was my pick as best track from the EP and again, it fits perfectly into the scheme of the album as a whole. I never get tired of hearing this, with Harnell in great voice and letting fly with a dark and aggressive lead vocal.
Changing tact is Everybody's Got A Secret - another track that is destined to be ranked a fan favourite. Like Satellite from the EP, this track features a very pop groove and has a distinct 80's feel to it. The uptempo, feel good pop/rocker with an instantly catchy chorus, will be one of the easiest tracks to appreciate and is a great balancing track to the darker and moodier elements within the album.
Everything U R features another classic TNT guitar riff, but the song itself is a little different and shows yet another personality within the album. It's not the most immediate track, but rather is another grower, with a simple, but effective chorus.
The last full track of the album is the haunting ballad Song For Diana. This is unlike any other TNT track I have heard. The Celtic styled ballad features a sparse, but complex arrangement and a female vocal from Tony's talented wife, to accompany his lead vocal, which really draws the listener in.
The Last Word is another short and simple instrumental piece which closes the album.
All said and done, the album flows perfectly from the opening to the closing, with each track between another gem. It's one of the best albums TNT have ever recorded and quite possibly the best ever. I've had their classic Tell Not Tales for 17 years now, so My Religion has a lot to live up to, but so far it's doing a brilliant job.
I can't imagine any TNT fan not impressed with this release. It's just that good. In fact, I can't imagine any rock fan not impressed with it.
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