TESLA – Into The Now


Release Date: March 9, 2004

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

My last review here at Metal Express Radio included statements like “…best thrash metal disc since…” and “…this is what Metallica no longer is capable of doing…” Some of you out there might believe I have lost all critical senses when I gave Exodus 9 points and Tesla a full score just a few days apart. (Think again, this is Tesla). I have said it before, and I’ll gladly repeat it – I don’t have time to review shitty records by bands I don’t care for. When I take time to review an album, I find it to be a decent record, or the CD is by a band that I expect a lot from, based on their history and whatever else.

Yes, I was in a Tesla mood when “Into The Now” hit my mailbox. I had just watched the DVD with all the old promo videos and the big hair (Tesla was never hair metal, by the way), and though I never needed the reminder, I concluded “What a killer band. I wonder when the next CD is out?” A few days later, I had the answer as a burnt silver laser disc found its new owner. With the seller’s words in mind when I purchased “Bust A Nut”, Tesla’s 1994 release – “this band is not capable of making a less than stellar CD” – I need to admit I had no clue what to expect this time. It’s been close to 10 years — side projects like Bar 7, Moon Dog Mane and Soulmotor never captured the magic of Tesla, and the music industry as well as its (lack of) values have changed.

You may say Tesla has changed as well, but thank God (I am a non-believer, but for Tesla I make an exception), not too much. On “Into The Now”, you will find slightly down-tuned guitars and an even more slightly modern feel at some points, but most importantly, you will find the incredible melodies, the diverse songs and the Tesla trademark fat bottom bass and dual guitar attack. All topped by Jeff Keith’s unique voice and “let’s make a better world” lyrics. I said there were a few changes; the band doesn’t have an uptempo song like “Don’t De-Rock Me” or “Yesterday’s Gone” to offer this year. While the album hits you with a ton of bricks in heaviness, there aren’t really any uptempo numbers. Better or worse? You decide, but I’d say that the mid-tempo approach is Tesla 2004 – not wanting to do “The Great Radio Controversy” all over again.

I mentioned “The Great Radio Controversy”, which together with the first LP, is the record that it still is “politically/musically correct” to say is the band’s best. Nah, hold your horse. While the first LP had its incredible songs, and the second as well, I’d say Tesla really started making magic with “Psychotic Supper”. Not that the songs on the two first don’t match “…Supper”, but the latter saw the guys peak when it comes to band chemistry and production. (You hear the guitars in “Freedom Slaves”, and you know it’s Tesla. You put “Rock Me To The Top” on, and it could be any band from the eighties – sound-wise). But true, Tesla never made a less than stellar album – even “Bust A Nut” had its moments and then some. (And by the way, let’s not forget that absolutely every other band’s attempt of doing an acoustic album or session has failed in comparison to Tesla’s “Five Man Acoustical Jam”). Enough this and that, action talks – let’s get to the songs on “Into The Now”:

Tesla chapter 2, the best hard rock CD in a longer time than I care to remember, starts with its title track “Into The Now”. It hits you heavy, but creates diversity when Jeff comes in and somehow connects the verse with the riff. The bridge and chorus are kind of one, and while you have never heard Tesla this way, you know after hearing the choruses that this IS Tesla and nothing else. The song even has a piano section and weird guitar noises.

“Look At Me”, a song you could hear at the Metal Express Radio jukebox already before Christmas, is another hard-hitting affair, and I realize that Brain Wheat’s bass guitar has never sounded better. I see on the net that people call this their favorite, and why not? It’s not my favorite, but indeed a great song.

Next is “What A Shame”, and this one shows the Tesla you remember, a catchy mid-tempo half-ballad. The song shows how the band so incredibly has a red thread from the verse through the bridge and into the chorus. It has Tesla written all over it, with acoustic guitars during the verse.

The Sacramento boys always had a song or two about about politics, but refrained from drawing the answers. (It’s only Rock’n Roll!) “Heaven Nine Eleven” is one where Tesla takes a look at the world today. The snare drum sound is kind of modern, just not at all as modern as Metallica tried and failed to make it. The song makes the house move and has a melody that somehow builds. Check out Jeff’s primal scream, by the way.

“Words Can’t Explain” is a typical Tesla number that puts you in a good mood. I have a hard time coming up with a lot to say about this one, it’s simply a catchy tune in true Tesla fashion.

The album’s first radio single, already on respectful rotation, is “Caught In A Dream”. Again, this is a rather typical Tesla song; a simply stunning melody, dreaming about a peaceful world, and again, the songs builds from a mellow verse to an over the top chorus. There’s a slide guitar in there that makes it a wee bit country-esque, and seriously, whoever penned this song (I have no information on that, but it sounds like a Hannon/Keith thingie with Wheat bringing in a little Liverpool-ism), should be entitled to Saddam’s bank accounts.

“Miles Away” is ironically (hence the name) close to the heaviest track on the album. Here, Jeff also sings over the crunchy and brutal guitars, a good chance to show that he’s still got a powerful rock’n roll voice. This one is more Tesla chapter 2 substance, and it works well. One thing I notice throughout the record, though, is that Tommy and Frank don’t blend quite as much as they did before, and the shredding is more experimental and less gutsy.

Superman and “Mighty Mouse” are what the next track is about. I don’t get this lyrical idea at all, but again – it’s only rock’n roll, and not everything has to be dead serious. The song has a good Led Zeppelin-ish groove.

More screams from Mister Keith, as “Got no Glory” meets the listener. It’s down-tuned and right in your face, with an attitude we like here in Scandinavia (“…gonna tell it to you like it is…”), this is another highlight and proof that Tesla stands tall and vital as an honest rock band in 2004.

Back to more traditional Tesla, “Come To Me” has acoustic playing and is another mid-tempo halfway ballad. Not a lot more to add, really.

Want more of those “building” melodies? “Recognize” is another one – simply impossible to get tired of. (Believe me, I have spun this disc twice every day for more than two months before I wrote this review). The guitar work is again top notch, check for yourself.

Finally “Only You” — the most obvious ballad on “Into The Now” — this is Jeff, an acoustic guitar, and a beautiful string section, and perhaps the most mellow song ever by the band. You think that sounds negative? Hell no, this is one of the best ballads I have ever heard – one to play again and again while just staring at the wall, as it has a hypnotic feel to it due to the interaction between Jeff and the instruments.

To conclude, finally, is this Tesla’s best studio release? Full score, yes, but I am not sure. The first album has the attitude, the second has the hits, the third has the hits as well as the right sound, while the fourth had its moments but lacked the inspiration. This is the band’s fifth, and it’s by far the album with the most integration song-wise. Tesla dares to update their music, and they succeed, albeit that which made millions of fans back in the day is still there and happy. The 9th of March is when heaven comes down, and the tour starts three days later. Place the order and pack your bag!


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