MENNEN – Freakazoid

MENNEN - Freakazoid

Summary

Escapi Music/Screaming Ferret Wreckords
Release date: November 11, 2004

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Freakazoid is one of those albums that really need to be listened to with no distractions: Everybody out, phone off the hook, headphones on, lights out, and relaxant/stimulant of your choice close to hand.

Joss Mennen’s vocals and Erik van de Kerkhof’s guitar work are definitely the driving force of this album. Joss has a voice that is unbelievably smooth, even when he’s applying the power; no cracks, no wavers, just crystal clear singing. “Above The Waterline,” ”Secrets And Lies,” “Believe,” and “Blue,” the ballad tracks of the album, really let you hear the quality of his voice, and even when he lets rip, particularly on “Bob,” “The World Stopped Turning,” and “Loose Somebody,” there is no diminish of clarity.

Meanwhile, as Joss’s vocals lulls you to that warm, fuzzy place that you go to feel safe and secure, Erik’s guitar playing comes and sideswipes you when your guard is down. There is no doubt that Erik really knows how to handle a guitar, and is not afraid to use everything in his guitar arsenal as and when it is required.

It’s difficult to give a good example of Erik’s ability and talent with respect to his guitar wizardry … as it is just there, right where it should be. For instance, some guitarists master the difficult art of ‘Pinch Harmonics,’ and have screaming and howling guitars all over the place. Same can be said for ‘Sweep Picking,’ ‘Tapping,’ and wiggling their proverbial whammy bar. Erik has mastered all of these arts and more, but only plays them when they are called for in each song. Just listen to the intros to “It’s Over,” “Wicked White,” “Loose Somebody,” and “Taste Of Paradise” to hear a guitar master at work. Even his solos, though technically intricate and challenging, are so much part of each song that if you’re not paying attention, you might miss them, and you really, really don’t want to do that. There is so much to hear that it is quite impossible to catch everything on one spin of this CD. Every replay will have you going “Ooohh, never heard that bit the last time!” Such is the workings of the human brain, it can only take in so much at one time.

Of course, bassist Alex Jansen’s and drummer Fon Janssen’s contributions to Freakazoid should not be overlooked. To use a well worn cliche, they are the glue that binds everything together. They also add that little bit of a rough edge to what could have been too smooth of a Rock album. Fon Janssen’s drumming is of metronomic quality that could match the best programmed drum machine for precision, but beats it hands down because it has life … something no drum machine, no matter how well programmed, can ever achieve. Alex Jansen also has his moments where he shows his prowess. Yet, like Erik’s guitaring, his moments of glory are in there, as and when required, as part of the song as a whole, not just stuck in for effect.

Listening to the first couple of chords of “Down,” Def Leppard is the first thing that springs to mind. However, it soon becomes clear that Mennen has its own musical style, yet something in your head makes you think you’ve heard something like this before. The promo blurb that came with the CD kinda goes some way to explaining why you get this deja-vu experience. Mixed by Erwin Musper, who has produced albums for Scorpions, Van Halen, and Def Leppard, you can hear the similarity in the sound of these bands in the end result. Not that this is a bad thing, but production by template perhaps doesn’t bring out the true sound of Mennen, and hearing them play live may be the best way to hear that true sound. But hey, getting compared to the likes of Scorpions, Van Halen, and Def Leppard is not a bad thing!

Freakazoid has a lot of good stuff in it, but, you must give it your undivided attention to absorb its full value. If you listen to Freakazoid while being distracted, you will hear a mighty fine Rock album. If you are prepared to give Freakazoid your undivided attention, you will hear the full spectrum of Rock music of the highest quality, played by four musicians who have a handle on the teamwork concept required to produce high quality Rock music!

Author

  • Ross Swinton

    Ross was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. His first recollection of listening to Rock music was at a party in the early '70s, and Thin Lizzy, Electric Light Orchestra, The Who, and Nazareth made him pick up his first Air Guitar and Rock-On! He spent 23 years, from the age of 16, in the Army and wandered around the globe getting paid for travelling to far, sometimes near, exotic, though sometimes dangerous, lands and had a blast whilst doing it. Since leaving the Army in ’98, he has settled near his hometown, just a few miles from Edinburgh, Scotland. Here he helps local bands by recording demos and albums; building them websites; helping put on gigs for them, and generally helping them build up a fan base.

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