Album Review: Buckcherry – “Warpaint”
Now I’m not claiming to be Pure Rawk’s answer to Nostradamus or anything, but when I reviewed the (thankfully) sole album to date from Josh Todd’s decidedly less than stellar side project the Conflict about 18 months ago, I seem to remember starting the review by mentioning how the press release stated that Buckcherry were currently on hiatus until further notice, and pondering if this really meant that they’d be back in 2019 with a new album once Josh had got his ill-advised nu-metal tendencies out of his system.
Well, here we are in 2019 and, quelle surprise, following the decidedly minimal commercial splash made by the Conflict, Todd has indeed returned to his day job. With him now being the sole original member in Buckcherry (guitarist Keith Nelson, always the more down-to-earth Slash/Izzy style foil to Todd’s Axl style loudmouth frontman, has sadly now left for pastures new) and the fact that both of Buckcherry’s last two albums (“Confessions” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll”) weren’t exactly their strongest work, the omens for this one weren’t exactly great.
So how does it stack up then? Weeelll… I guess at least it’s no worse than those two. So if the rot hasn’t exactly been reversed, I guess there’s at least an argument to say that it might have been stopped for now. The things wrong with it – it has two plodding ballads which really fall some way short of what Buckcherry can usually do in this area (“Radio Song” and “The Hunger”), there’s a Nine Inch Nails cover (“Head Like A Hole”) which is reasonably faithful but just feels totally unnecessary, and worst of all are the two really ill advised attempts at funk metal – one sounds like a poor man’s Red Hot Chili Peppers (“The Alarm”, sadly not a tribute to Mike Peters and co) and even worse, the other sounds uncannily like Lenny Kravitz (“Right Now”).
However, “Warpaint” does have a few reasonably enjoyable tracks – “Vacuum” is a good sinister mid-paced number which sounds suitably paranoid, but it’s telling that the other highlights come with the moments where Buckcherry ditch trying to be something they’re not and just go for a full on G’n’R style rock-out. “Bent”, “No Regrets”, “Closer” (the nearest they come to the cocksure swagger they once exuded on their first three albums) and stomping closer “The Devil’s In The Detail” are all good efforts and prove that they do still have a little bit of fire left in the tank. At least it’s something to build on for next time I guess…
Although it's still a long way short of the heights they once soared to so effortlessly 15-20 years ago, "Warpaint" is at least slightly better than some of the chod Buckcherry have put their names to in recent years. There's still a lot wrong with it, but it potentially point the route to a way back for them. This is the sort of album which in the pre-streaming age you'd borrow off a thick mate and tape/burn the good bits really.