Guitarist Kane Roberts first came to my attention as part of Alice Cooper’s band for his ‘rebirth’ albums Constrictor and Raise Your Fist… I was impressed enough to buy his first solo album Saints and Sinners (I still have the cassette stored somewhere after burning all of my vinyl and tapes onto CD). For this new album, he has called on numerous luminaries for both composing and performing: the album includes songs written with Brent Smith from Shinedown and Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale and guest musicians including Kip Winger and Paul Taylor, Ken Mary and a certain Alice Cooper himself. The New Normal is, perhaps because of this line-up, a mix of classic rock, some grunginess and a hunk of metal too.
The song that will generate the most attention is ‘Beginning Of The End’, which features guest vocalists Alice Cooper and Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Glu; Alice is, well Alice and puts in a good performance over a hefty riff and Alissa adds some tasteful depth, but when it goes all thrash growly it, to mind, detracts from what would have been a pretty good song and the solo is well constructed but only comes in at the fade. Much better is the acoustic starting ‘Who We Are’ which takes canny percussion and a thumping bass drum to build a very good song with acres of light and shade. The vocals are strong and the guitars make this truly heavy and different ballad my favourite.
‘King Of The World’ and the slower ‘The Lion’s Share’ which was written by Lzzy Hale, channel a bit too much Shinedown for me but are still effective. The catchy ‘Forever Out Of Place’, written by Brent Smith, is another acoustic and percussion heavy track which is melodic and almost AOR, but it is all the better for that.
So we get a very accomplished album which isn’t that new or that normal but adds up to a very enjoyable journey with a skillful composer and guitarist; different in some ways from his earlier work, but with sufficient weight to appeal to rock fans of most sub-genres.