Reviewed by Nathan Daniel
Artist: Hotel Diablo
Album: The Return To Psycho, California
Label: Scarlet Records
Release Date: 25 September 2012
2. All These Years
3. What You Do To Me
4. Psycho California
5. Bury You
6. Set It Off
7. Wicked Lines
10. What You Do To Me (ALTERNATE VERSION)
11. Bury You (ALTERNATE VERSION)
Return To Psycho, California is the debut album of recently formed Hotel Diablo, a band that could be somewhat considered a ‘Super group’, comprising of members and ex-members of W.A.S.P, Quiet Riot and Ladyjack. The album receives a finer touch of stature, finding production in acclaimed Producer and ex-Guns ‘N’ Roses Axeman, Gilby Clarke. So, upon taking note of this union of veteran musicians, a very professional and high quality album might be expected.
Taken opens with an exciting, crunching riff before allowing Rick Stitch to begin the showcase of his vocal prowess. The album opener seems impressive, powering through with meaty riffs and the drums to match. The brilliantly executed little solo found towards the end confirms the Hard Rock nature of Hotel Diablo to be found throughout the rest of the album, along with Alex Rossi‘s six-string ability.
Out of “Taken” and into “All These Years“, which begins with a warbling riff that progresses into the main section of the song, as Mike Dupke uses the snare to build momentum into a soaring chorus. Another song down, another emotional story! This then moves into “What You Do To Me“; a song introduced slowly and acoustically – the first ballad of the album. Stitch‘s lyrics talk of how he has succumbed to the pain of past relationship through deep and honest imagery, much like the tone of many other of the front man’s songs.
The self-titled track of the album marks a definite peak in the album as its bouncy riffs carry the song through, demonstrating that these veteran musicians do indeed know what they’re doing, and how to write a pretty good song. Following this is “Bury You“, another ballad-like track with a slow and atmospheric opening that sets the tone for an emotion-rammed and meaningful song.
Next in comes “Set It Off“, further giving substance and hope to the record, as the pulsating opening guitars really do set it off. A slow second verse works its way into yet another momentous chorus accompanied by a winding riff. Tearing, impatient vocals then close what is one of the better songs on the album.
“Wicked Lines” begins, as do my feelings of boredom as it comes to my attention that the diversity so far on this album seems to have been few and far between, and it seems as though all the songs could almost merge into one.
Next in comes a heartfelt cover of “Wonderwall“: opening acoustically, as the guitar goes hand-in-hand, complementing Stitch‘s brilliant vocal range. In further complement, the Oasis song possibly even fits his voice more suitably than it does the Gallagher’s. Despite the over-played, boring nature of the song, Hotel Diablo are not far from bringing it back to life.
Finally is “Trigger“, which proves to show a release of some aggression. But yet again, what strikes me in this song is its similarity to the majority of the rest of the album, following very similar structures to the prior songs. Nevertheless, it is not a bad song, but also importantly, not a brilliant song.
Ending on this point; The Return To Psycho, California, despite demonstrating the talent of several veteran musicians, is not a bad album, but definitely at the same time, not a brilliant album. It may catch a few eyes and ears and sure, it is worth a listen – but ultimately, not the best debut album a band could hope for.
Rick Stitch (Vocals)
Alex Grossi (Guitar)
Mike Duda (Bass)
Mike Dupke (Drums)