CD Baby [Release date 15.09.20]
Elias T. Hoth’s ‘Metastatic Syndrome’ is full of all the road-tested elements with which he’s made his name in the last few years. There’s the unsettling title to start with, then there’s the balanced mix of roadhouse rocking, good time-boogie tempered by reflective ballads.
What’s probably different from his previous albums is the increased attention to sonic details in the form of significant bv’s and lush harmonies, which provide the perfect context for both his gruff voice and his nascent songcraft.
And while hard rocking remains Elias T. Hoth’s business, he’s not averse to digging deep for some heartfelt balladry within cleverly worked arrangements that evoke his lyrics.
It’s an album that recycled classic rock themes, from rock and roll itself, though the devil, sex, death, love songs and sorcery, all interwoven with electronic effects, lashing of guitar and topped by his own fierce some growl, natch!
It’s an album that rocks and boogie’s hard and explores meditative songs to boot.
To that end he reigns in his excesses to explore restraint on a handful of ballads, of which the reflective opener ‘Another Lover Like You’ sets the template for equally good outings such as ‘Don’t Fear The Night’, complete with strings bv’s, and a defining ascending guitar.
And just when you think the song has run its course there a big choral finale full of feel and grandeur that completely transforms it into something epic.
He’s equally good on the country rock feel of ‘Home Is Where the Heart Is’, a radio friendly country rocker with supporting harmonies. It’s a catchy melody with a strong vocal, a great band and further backing vocal support.
Then there’s ‘Sweet Summer Desire’ which is a revelation and arguably the album highlight. Built on a portentous bass drum pattern and intricate percussion, it neatly offsets Hoth’s measured vocal which is again bathed in warm bv’s.
It’s a beautiful arrangement in which the music evokes the summery lyrics, while the mid-number vocal swoop into the solo is simply majestic.
‘The Moment Of Sweet Surrender’ is another string-led ballad, on which he smooths out the edges to lean into a vocal that could almost be the late Jacky Leven (Doll By Doll).
He bookends the album with the acoustic ‘The Best Thing’, a kind of reflective southern tinged love song, complete with an Allman Brothers style, Chuck Leavell piano part and an uplifting hook on which his gruff persona gives way to a melting heart.
But before all the die-hard Hoth rockers head for the hills, there’s still plenty of hard rocking good stuff.
‘Dead On Arrival’ for example, opens with a voice collage announcing the assassinations of Martin Luther King and John Lennon before the band explodes into some Deep Purple riff driven rocking. Hoth applies his coarse growl to make the lyrics jump out of the track and into a catchy hook, flanked by an impressive guitar driven wall of sound.
‘The Devils Gonna Take Your Soul’ recycles some good old rock clichés to good effect. And while the tongue in cheek ‘Down Down Loaded’ is a Quo style boogie with a staccato, stop-time opening and a chanted hook about various sexual predilections, the following roadhouse rocker ‘Hell Or Highwater’ makes better use of Hoth’s growl.
‘Metastatic Syndrome’ is all about striking a balance between the Elias T. Hoth’s hard and occasional southern rock styles and his new found balladry.
His growing songwriting ability taps into some deep emotive recesses leading to several memorable melodies.
His additional use of bv’s and occasional duets with Nina Lanaghan brings a whole new dimension to his music.
This album shows his ability to step out the comfort zone and leap into the void with brand new meaningful songs with real feel.
Metastatic Syndrome successfully crosses that divide and deserves to expand his fan base. ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 20 September 2020.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 22 September 2020.
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