Album review: BLACKTHORNE – Afterlife and Don’t Kill The Thrill (2-CD package)

The Store For Music [Release date 23.07.21]

Blackthorne is probably one of the more obscure Graham (Rainbow/MSG/Alcatrazz) Bonnet ventures. At first glance it looks anything but: Jimmy (New England) Waldo, Bob (Kiss/WASP) Kulick, Frankie Banali and Chuck Wright, both ex Quiet Riot. In its own way, this was a hard rock supergroup.

The debut, Afterlife (1993) features three co-writes with award winning songwriter/guitarist Steven Rosen, three more with Steve (Autograph) Plunkett, and some sturdy band collaborations, adding up to a solid slab of high calibre rock songs.

It’s a thundering, anthem heavy album, full of ragged edged guitars and Bonnet’s controlled vocal aggression, all underwritten by Banali’s percussive thump.And it’s loud. ‘We Won’t Be Forgotten’ and ‘Baby You’re The Blood’ are the picks, easily head and shoulders above the others, if only because of their lighter touch.

Enterprising UK label, The Store For Music has paired Afterlife with the band’s “lost” album, Don’t Kill The Thrill. Both are augmented by a multitude of bonus tracks. Afterlife with seven, including a fabulously raw, energised 1992 demo of ‘Since You Been Gone’, with a 2018, re-recorded vocal; and “live unplugged” versions of ‘Afterlife’ and ‘We Won’t be Forgotten’. Two high watermarks on this expanded version of the album.

By 1993/4, the world of rock’n'roll has shifted on its axis. The powerful, arguably tighter, harder, punchier, Don’t Kill The Thrill follow up album couldn’t find a label. Now it’s here with ten bonus tracks.

The dramatic, occasionally dissonant ‘Skeletons In The Closet’, and the aggressively infectious ‘Wild Inside’ are the most obvious picks among a close knit batch of exciting, tightly woven rock songs.

Most of the bonuses are demo versions of songs from Afterlife.

And so in a way, Bonnet has returned, with music that contains all the ingredients we expect, some of it previously unreleased and much of it perhaps at a more intimate level. ****

Review by Brian McGowan

Albums that time forgot (Afterlife)

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