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 411mania » Music » Album Reviews

Tesla - Forever More Review [2]
Posted by Sandeep Murali on 10.09.2008

The line-up:
Jeff Keith-Lead Vocals
Frank Hannon-Guitar, Piano, Backing Vocals
Dave Rude-Guitar, Backing Vocals
Brian Wheat-Bass, Backing Vocals
Troy Luccketta-Drums

You know that guy who simply refuses to buy an iPod coz everyone else bought them to join the “Cool gang”? Well, Tesla is THAT guy. Except replace iPods with hairspray, makeup and spandex. When anyone and everyone from the 80’s was going down the glam route for commercial success, the Sacramento based quintet kept it real with Denim, T shirts and some good ol’ Rock ‘n Roll. From the first time I heard them; Tesla’s music caught my fancy. Maybe it’s coz I happen to like denim and hate iPods. I dunno. No, seriously, it was because of the obvious blues influence and Jeff Keith’s voice, which honest to god, I thought was Steven Tyler the first time around.

Through the course of 24 years of existence, Tesla has put out six studio albums, all with the same line-up. That’s quite a feat in itself. However, that changes with ”Forever More” as founding member Tommy Skeotch parted ways with the band for various reasons a short while ago. In his place comes 30 year old David Rude, who was formally invited to join the band by Hannon in 2006(After seeing his MySpace page of all things!). I had come across a few Youtube clips of Rude performing with Tesla and was quite impressed by what I saw. Therefore, I had high hopes for this long awaited follow-up to 2004’s ”Into the now”.

Track listing:
1. Forever More-5:02
2. I Wanna Live-3:35
3. One Day At A Time-3:11
4. So What!-3:39
5. Just In Case-4:38
6. Fallin’ Apart-4:22
7. Breakin’ Free-5:02
8. All Of Me-3:27
9. The First Time-4:11
10. Pvt. Ledbetter-3:24
11. In A Hole Again-5:25
12. The Game-4:50

We start off with the title track, which instantly captures your attention with an Arpeggio based intro. Long time Tesla fans would feel right at home as this has become somewhat of a trademark for the band. From there on, the track takes off in amazing fashion with catchy riffs, acoustic interludes and a killer solo to top things off. However, I am not quite convinced about the band’s decision to use a drop tuning for the song (A trend that is repeated in a few other tracks as well) because in my opinion, this gave bassist Wheat little room to breathe. Nothing to worry about though, as he gets to show off his wares later.

The next track, “I wanna live” is the quintessential rock anthem and is truly headbang-worthy. The video for the song is featured on the band’s home page and while no Hollywood FX showreel, conveys the essence of the song in convincing fashion. “One day at a time” is yet another anthem, which sees some subtle double bass work from Luccketta. “So What!”; with its Wah based riff and addictive chorus had me singing along in no time. Somehow, the track reminded me of “What a shame” from ”Into the now” and that is no bad thing.

The next two tracks, “Just in case” and “Fallin’ apart” are mellow ballads and show of the bluesy side of the band in ample amounts. When I got hold of the album, I had half wished for another “Love song” (”The great radio controversy”). While that didn’t happen, these two songs are pretty good in their own right. I especially loved the lyrics and the usage of the neck pickup for the licks in “Just in case”. Nothing screams blues like a fat ‘un in the neck. “Fallin’ apart” has a more modern sound to it which should prove it an easy fit into the scheme of things, as far as radio is concerned.

“Breaking free” marks the return of the drop tuning and something that was left forgotten in the attic a while ago. The Phaser pedal. Seriously, when was the last time you heard one in action? This helped the track earn some cool points in my book. The crisp solo didn’t hurt things either. “All off me” flows in the same vein, with even more intensity. The tempo goes up by quite a bit and the rapid fire solo leaves one wanting for more. Pretty much the sledgehammer of the album. “The first time”, which follows this track, is the “Feel good” song that every modern rock band out there attempts sometime in their career, usually with disastrous results. However, Tesla is musically and lyrically talented to pull this off without sounding tired and clichéd. This is also the track where Wheat’s exemplary bass work is most prominent.

“Pvt. Ledbetter” is the pick of the album for me. It's an amazing, soulful, yet simple ballad that tells the story of a family waiting for their son to return from the warfield. Tesla has made it a habit of inserting subtle nuances into their lyrics, which become evident only after a few listens. Case in point, the contrast in the lines about the parents sending in an old fashioned letter to their son and receiving a cold e-mail that informs them of his demise in return. There’s a slight bit of sarcasm thrown in there as well with the parents being requested to “Be proud of their sacrifice”. This track is also a case study on how to effectively use a solo in building the climax to a song and leading to the conclusion.

The band throws in all they’ve got for the final two tracks. “Back in the hole again” is choc-fulla memorable riffs. Maybe it’s just me, but the track has more than a hint of ”Dokken”in it. “The game” is as perfect an ending one can hope for in a hard rock album. Extremely thrash-y, it wouldn’t look out of place in the catalogue of much heavier artists. Insane guitar work is the hallmark of the song, with what is arguably the best soloing in the whole album taking pride of place.

When I first listened to the album, I was a bit underwhelmed because of the high standards Tesla had set for themselves. I put in a few more hours worth of listening and the results were drastically different. I can now confidently say that this is quite possibly one of the best hard rock albums in quite some time. If it were up to me, I’d sit every single one of the modern “Rock” acts down and force them to listen to ”Forever More” for days at a stretch. Perhaps that’d open their eyes and ears to what good music is.

The 411: As a die hard Tesla fan, I am completely satisfied by this album. It brings to us everything that we expect from the non-conformists from Sacramento: Stellar lyrics, raspy-yet-tight vocals, big guitars and an overall bluesy tone that has a longer shelf life than most in the market. This band deserves way more attention than they receive and "Forever More" could just be the catalyst for that. Definitely worth your money and time.
411 Elite Award
Final Score:  8.5   [ Very Good ]  legend


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