I’ve written it before and I’ll write it again – when you think of the high quality of Crazy Lixx’ albums it’s a mystery that they’re not bigger than they are. Sure, their brand of 80’s Arena Rock might not be hip and maybe the name Crazy Lixx has something to do with it but I believe many fans are too content with listening to their old, comfortable records and can’t be bothered to really get into new stuff. It’s a shame because Crazy Lixx deserves to be huge, in my opinion. But luckily for us, the Lixxers don’t care and keep on going – this is their seventh album since 2007 and none of their albums has been worse than than good which means that they have a lot to live up to after every release – especially after their last awesome record Forever Wild (2019).
Throughout their career, Crazy lixx has ”suffered” from multiple line-up changes but now it really feels that the line-up – Danny Rexon (vocals), Chrisse Olsson and Jens Lundgren (guitars), Jens Anderson (bass) and Joel Cirera (drums) – is stable as this is the third album in a row with the same members. One other pretty cool thing I discovered is that the last three albums has had a light, underlying theme. I’m not talking rock-operas or theme-records by any means but 80’s movies of different genres shows up here and there. On Ruff Justice (2017), horror-flicks like Friday The 13th showed up and on Forever Wild action aero-movies like Top Gun and Iron Eagle was visible in song-titles and outlook. I think that’s kinda rad.
On the new album, the cover screamed action-comedies – Lethal Weapon, Rocky etc. and we only have to look at the title for opening intro ”Enter The Dojo” and the atmosphere on it to see Bonzai trees growing all around you and Mr Miyagi showing us how to wax cars – for us older peeps it’s a hello to Karate Kid and for the younger generation it’s probably Cobra Kai – a TV-serie I really dig as well. This Eastern-flavored, soundtrack-sounding intro is a way paver for the real opener and latest single ”Rise Above”. With it’s classic Metal opening riffage and heavier outlook – more Dio than Bon Jovi – it’s perfect for opening live-shows as well. They combine the Metal edges and gritty guitars with some stellar melodies and striking hook lines and the chorus hits bullseye right from go. It’s a phenomenal track and the album couldn’t have had a better start.
Leading single ”Anthem For America” is just that – an anthem. The tune is an ode to American Hard Rock and a pep-talk to Americans to take back what they once were so good at – melodic Hard Rock, hook-laden with mastodon choruses and a kicking drive. This song is a suggestion for them how to do it because this song is exactly that – hooky, guitar-driven, uplifting, positive and with extraordinary melodies all over with a catchy-deluxe chorus as the icing on the cake. This is an upbeat, happy-go-lucky rocker that makes me want to go out speeding in a car with the top-lift down only to end up by the beach drinking cold ones with a large number of friends – and I love it, totally love it.
Coming on in a mid-pace, ”The Power” goes off in a stompy and chunky groove, stage-friendly with some razor-sharp hooks in both verse and refrain. There’s a nod to late 80’s Sunset Strip Hard Rock where the strong melodies of the verses carries the song to a hymn-like chorus that will surely pull out some crowd-voices live. This is brilliant. ”Reach Out” is both uptempo and upbeat but takes the path down AOR lane with an intense pop-laden main-melody that takes me right back to the wonderful year of 1987. Released as an ”official audio”, this smooth yet not too glossy number should have had a real video because the hit-potential here is endless. It’s catchy as damn but contains no extra added sugar at all. Killer!
The instrumental interlude ”Final Fury” sounds like a movie-score for an 80’s action-movie of sorts, a bit Synthwave like and therefore a bit of a surprise as it breaks off the musical style of the record. I like it and the way it paves way for the next track but that being said, I can’t stop imagining what the Lixx could have done with a title like this had they written a full-on Lixx-track instead. The next track is the albums titular song, an edgy, ass-kicking, classic Hard Rock belter with some powerhouse riffage. Again they look into Metal for inspiration with punchy and stone-hard rhythms and ballsy roughness but it also contains some classic Lixx melodies on top, melodic and catchy. It’s not single-material but it will beat you up live – and it’s a bad-ass song.
If you have a title like ”Caught Between The Rock N’ Roll” you really can’t make anything else than a party anthem out of it. And sure enough, that’s exactly what we get. The groove is upbeat and distinct, there are some raunchier bluesy licks involved with the spot-on late 80’s/early 90’s all American melodic Hard Rock. I do hear some Def Leppard in here and a a slice of Cinderella and the song sports a million-bucks melodies all over with a massive chorus that will lift the roof of any venue it’s performed in. I smell a hit. Awesome.
”In The Middle Of Nothing” is a semi power ballad with a chunky stomp inserted. Slightly on the sugary side the song takes us back to the days when MTV ruled and Hard Rock ballads were on everyone’s mind. The somewhat held-back verse takes us into a state of emotion where we hum along, waiting for the punchline and when the state of the art power ballad chorus hits, there’s simply no other way than to surrender to the infectious and bullseye catchiness. Sure, Crazy Lixx has done this before but this has to be one of their absolute best power ballads – if not THE best.
With the song ”One Fire – One Goal”, an uplifting, energetic and uptempo Melodic Rock number we’re getting close to the end of the album and it sure looks like we have an all killer, no filler record on out hands once again. This one brings on a pumping rhythm, a solid beat and some magnetic, smooth melodies yet with driving guitars and a positive outlook. Again, it feels like just another Crazy Lixx tune at first but at the end of the day, I don’t care because it’s so damn good and again, the chorus is just contagious. Closing track ”Thief In The Night” is a 7 minute + colossus but make no mistake, Crazy Lixx hasn’t gone prog-metal on us at all. This one’s Melodic Rock cemented in the 80’s where Crazy Nights era Kiss and Bon Jovi is blended with classic Lixx melodies and vocal arrangements, it’s just a bit more jammy. But it’s catchy, chorus-solid and ever so effective that the seven minutes flies by in no-time.
So here’s the deal, I love this band and this album won’t change that, quite the contrary as a matter of fact. I have had eights and nines flying around their records – their self-titled 2014 album and my favorite even got the full monty – and I stand by those scores to this day but I’ll be damned if this isn’t their finest moment since that 2014 record. Yes, the ten isn’t far away at all. I have given this album several spins and I really can’t find anything at all to complain about except maybe for the fact that I’m not all that big on instrumentals on album within this genre. Chris Laney, Lixx’ producer and mixer on a few of their albums once called Danny Rexon the Desmond Child of the 2000’s and I think I have to agree there. A splendid effort that will most likely end up on the Top 10 of 2021.