Norwegian Hair Metal legends TNT are back with a new, polarizing album. A poor choice in XIII‘s lead singles will probably doom the release, which is a shame as this album does have many flaws but also contains some high-points that could potentially rank up there with some of TNT’s finest moments. The real standout performance here is that of new TNT vocalist Baol Bardot Bulsara. Hailing from Spain, his voice is a perfect fit for the not-easy-to-fill shoes of this act’s previous singers like Tony Harnell and Tony Mills. Bulsara’s voice reaches those wonderful, stratospheric tones with ease and he delivers a genuine and passionate performance. Where some of the vocals falter is in the lyric department. Songs like “Are You Ready For Some Hard Rock” and “Tears In My Eyes” are so predictable, they’re almost boring before you even hear them. That’s one of the biggest problems on XIII; much of the writing sounds phoned-in and uninspired. The fact that Ronni Le Tekro’s guitars are sometimes buried doesn’t help things, and even some of his solos sound as if he recorded them in his sleep.
All that being said, there are still some brilliant moments on this album. There are several fantastic ballads. “Where You Belong” and “Sunshine” both let Bulsara really explore his vocal range and the results are fantastic. The latter of those two features some pedal steel guitar, which surprisingly fits in perfectly with the vibe of the track, before setting up one of Le Tekro’s better solos of the release.
“Fair Warning” is another nice surprise. It starts out with a dirty, infectious groove and keeps things interesting with a refreshing song structure and some nice, organic guitar lines.
All things considered, this is probably one of the weaker TNT albums, but as many missteps as it has, a superb vocal performance and a handful of standout tracks keep XIII heading in the right direction as far as the eye can see.
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