With a forty year career under their belt, Nazareth can be deservedly labeled under the classic hard rock folder. And based on the huge discography of albums containing loads of good material, expecting solid quality from the scots’ new releases is just as deserved. After ten years since the band’s previous release (Boogaloo 1998), Nazareth is back with album called The Newz and it’s time to check out how the band has maintained their skills as not only touring, but also recording artists.
Nazareth has been a flexible band in altering their sound and overall style from album to album during their long career. Delving into their back cataloque the listener can have his pick from heavy rocking albums like Razamanaz and Hair of the Dog as well as AOR-style hard rock such as The Fool Circle or Sound Elixir, to catch just a couple of examples. So, after ten years of silence (as far as the studio albums go), it was difficult to know what to expect from the new album. On Boogaloo, their previous display of power, Nazareth came out as a band who was re-installing the tight, cranky heaviness to the catchy, sometimes even poppy, melodies and creating a two-sided album that had some bad moments but was in the end very enjoyable. So based on that my expectations were – though uncertain – reliant on the band’s ability to come up with new songs that would deserve to form another Naz album.
The good news is, The Newz does just that. The album sounds like Nazareth from start to finish and on many occasions shows the band still knows how to write good hard rock tunes. On the other hand the album is nothing extra special either, when put up against the band’s best releases. At times the going sounds just a little tired, just a little uninspired and a few of the songs will be destined to fade into the ranks of their comrades amongst the less impressive Naz tracks of the past. Still, as whole, the album is a good one. To counterweigh the duller moments, The Newz offers some tasteful guitar riffs, strong vocal delivery and a few songs that are very, very good.
The winners on The Newz are ‘Road Trip’ – a gritty raw chugger that let’s the band and singer Dan McCafferty in particular, get back to their Razamanaz days as the song rocks on and McCafferty screechs out the lyrics in his renowned style. ‘Enough Love’ and ‘See Me’ on the other hand bring memories from the band’s eighties’ albums, both being great melodic hard rock tunes and two of the highlights of the album. Especially ‘See Me’, which would be a big hit should this kinda music get any radio airing time nowadays. Melodic side of Nazareth at it’s best. Also worth mention is a fine, very emotional ballad ‘Dying Breed’ that closes the album (or does it…?) with a sorrowful beauty. The different side of McCafferty’s vocals really come to shine on this one – the emotion on the hard rock’s seasoned veteran’s life-hardened voice is heart-gripping.
Songs like ‘Liar’ and ‘The Gathering’ aim for a heavier outcome, and though both tunes work alright, the yet added heaviness to the latter on band’s live set showed that also on the album the songs might’ve benefitted from still a bit more powerful sound. Joyful ‘Day At The Beach’ works as a cool summer tune, ‘Gloria’ is another ballad driven by McCafferty’s emotional voice and ‘Mean Streets’ features some delightful guitarwork. The rest of the songs fall somewhere in between ok and uninteresting but overall the impression the album leaves is a positive one.
‘The Newz’ is pure Nazareth and a good sign that the classic band is still very much alive and kicking. It doesn’t rise amongst the group’s milestone records, but packed with a fistful of good hard rock songs it is a good ‘welcome back’ album from the band that has been near dormant for too long. Solid Naz.
1. Goin’ Loco
2. Day At The Beach
4. See Me
5. Enough Love
7. Mean Streets
8. Road Trip
10. Keep On Travellin’
11. Loggin’ On
12. The Gathering
13. Dying Breed