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Issue: March 2009
Black Butterfly (Atlantic)

Nearly a decade ago, Buckcherry pushed their way outside of L.A. and showed hard rock fans how to get lit up. More recently, the rock 'n' rollers introduced even more people to a crazy bitch. Since 1999, Buckcherry has released four solid rock albums that vibe an early Guns N Roses, combining '70s hard rock and punk with blues-based riffs sex, drugs and rock ‘n' roll. The band has developed its own sweet brand of rock 'n' roll with aggressive drums, adrenalized guitars and bitchin' vocals.

The band's latest release, Black Butterfly, is familiar Buckcherry. In the track "Talk to Me," lead vocalist Josh Todd wraps his raspy, screaming voice around a crown of thick, but sharp Les Paul tones. In time with the smack of the hollow snare and gritty palm-mutes, Todd asks his lady friend to bring his "fantasies to his life." "Tired of You" is lustful Eighties guitar rock with taunting, aggressive vocal lines and gutty drums. "Imminent Bailout," comes close to resurrecting the ghost of vintage GNR, with a crash-riding, ass-kickin' drum beat and several snarling guitars.

Several tracks from Black Butterfly are reminiscent of older albums in that they are up to their ears in attitude rock, but Buckcherry has also used past albums to display their other, slower side moved by careful melodies made of sincere lyrics and rich guitar tones. Other than "All of Me," a bubbly, acoustic love song about devotion, the slower tracks lack the sincerity and originality expected from Buckcherry. "Dreams," for example, sounds familiar, with its strummed, tremolo-ed guitar and pouncing bass line, but there's no emotional hook. There isn't a line that means more than all the rest or a weird sound that comes from the bottom of Todd's throat that explains exactly how he's feeling.

Similarly, the group stumbles with the first single, "Too Drunk …", a funky riff-based song about being too drunk to get it on. In 1999, Todd sang about being hooked on blow and being strung out and still loving the cocaine. "Lit Up" topped the mainstream rock tracks because it sounded good and Todd was convincing. In 2005, Todd sang about a chemically unbalanced woman who constantly broke him down, but he was so sexually attracted to her that it didn't matter. Basically, he explains this woman's beauty was strictly on the outside and that was enough for him. "Crazy Bitch," which received a Grammy nod for best hard rock performance, was no less convincing.

Buckcherry obviously took note of what types of songs "worked" and this probably led to the idea for "Too Drunk." The song is a mess of vulgar, over-the-top lyrics that just don't seem to flow. It's "Crazy Bitch" gone Hollywood. Sounds as if the band is going strictly for shock value. While "Black Butterfly" lacks some spirit, it's still a descent depiction of what Buckcherry is all about (already mentioned) and one could think of 20 albums less worthy of purchase.

Interested in more BuckCherry? It's at www.buckcherry.com.

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