Rock Masters Band - Hit the City/Diamonds
Rock Finland's Rock Masters Band consider themselves a supergroup and their name says it all. They fancy themselves masters of rock, or at least frontman Sami ?Haxu? Hakala does. He certainly is determined to rock as hard as possible for as long as possible, but rock is a venue in which quality matters more than quantity. With a new lineup and a new double single released recently, it seems Rock Masters Band has an abundance of rock, but it is not necessarily high-quality.

Rock Masters Band began in 2007 and was intended to be a powerful rock hybrid including members from Finnish power groups, Species and Spheia. They released their first album in 2010, called Taking Liberties, and 2011's b-side album, Take Out! followed soon after. The band's 2013 album, March of the Fat Pink Elephants really put Rock Masters Band on the map in Finland and beyond with its heavy 80s-throwback guitars and early 90s rock styling. Haxu's plan for the band was always clear: to pay homage to rock and the mega-groups of the 80s and early 90s while adding a modern twist. With songs on "March of the Pink Fat Elephants" like 'Instigator' and 'Bravado Bluff and Beauty,' he certainly achieved this goal in the eyes of fans.

Somewhere around early 2014, the original Rock Masters split up but Haxu was determined to keep rocking. For the new double single, which contains a cover Mark Lanegan's 'Hit the City' and an original work, "Diamonds," Haxu assembled two teams of musicians. The band's membership is currently in flux, but Haxu is soldiering on, possibly trying to find the best permanent fit and releasing these two singles in record time.

On "Diamonds," all the musicians who worked on the track are or were also part of other popular groups. Jimi Sero on bass was in the popular cult band Smack and guitarist Ace Mark was part of the legendary Bigelf, an American band which was hugely popular in Finland. For 'Hit the City,' a whole different crew consisting of Tero Rikkonen on bass and guitars, Mikael Tiittanen on drums and percussion and Teemu Holttinen rounding out the solo guitar work. There is definitely a clear difference in styles between the two tracks, mostly due to this difference in the backing band. The one constant, however is Haxu's rock-infused power vocals. He also conscripts his wife, Riikka for backing vocals on both songs.

The cover of 2004's Mark Lanegan alt rock song, 'Hit the City' is pretty messy compared to the original. It seems Haxu tried a little too hard to re-tool this song to fit his hard rock vision, and it thus lacks the passion and misses the point of the original. Rather than the ironic response to loneliness Lanegan originally wrote about, Haxu has turned the song into a raucous party tune. Haxu's vocals on this track will remind listeners of Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie, not necessarily a bad thing, but the sentiment of the song is definitely lost and the production values could be better.

The second track, 'Diamonds', seems a little more natural for Rock Masters Band. This is a true rock song and would make any 80s hair band proud as the heavy guitars drive the song while Haxu?s high-pitched vocals come just an octave short of the classic 80s power scream. This song seems to be more a matter of taste. If you're into power rock, 'Diamonds' is there for you, rocking so hard that you may question whether 90s and 2000s indie ever happened. Production values are still a little funky on this track but it's not as noticeable.

If Haxu is intent on keeping Rock Masters Band up and running, I would say the crew of Jimi Sero, Ace mark and drummer Sami Jarvinen who feature on Diamonds seems a little more natural for him, but that could just be because it's an original song rather than a cover. Overall the technical end of things, also produced by Haxu, seems a little poorly formed. There is potential for Rock Masters Band to return to their former glory, but it looks like Haxu needs some help. As he plans for more releases by the end of 2015, Haxu's greatest task will be to pick a band, find an engineer and do a little delegation so he can work on the Rock Masters Band's sound.
3
Brutal Resonance

Rock Masters Band - Hit the City/Diamonds

6.5
"Alright"
Released off label 2015
Finland's Rock Masters Band consider themselves a supergroup and their name says it all. They fancy themselves masters of rock, or at least frontman Sami ?Haxu? Hakala does. He certainly is determined to rock as hard as possible for as long as possible, but rock is a venue in which quality matters more than quantity. With a new lineup and a new double single released recently, it seems Rock Masters Band has an abundance of rock, but it is not necessarily high-quality.

Rock Masters Band began in 2007 and was intended to be a powerful rock hybrid including members from Finnish power groups, Species and Spheia. They released their first album in 2010, called Taking Liberties, and 2011's b-side album, Take Out! followed soon after. The band's 2013 album, March of the Fat Pink Elephants really put Rock Masters Band on the map in Finland and beyond with its heavy 80s-throwback guitars and early 90s rock styling. Haxu's plan for the band was always clear: to pay homage to rock and the mega-groups of the 80s and early 90s while adding a modern twist. With songs on "March of the Pink Fat Elephants" like 'Instigator' and 'Bravado Bluff and Beauty,' he certainly achieved this goal in the eyes of fans.

Somewhere around early 2014, the original Rock Masters split up but Haxu was determined to keep rocking. For the new double single, which contains a cover Mark Lanegan's 'Hit the City' and an original work, "Diamonds," Haxu assembled two teams of musicians. The band's membership is currently in flux, but Haxu is soldiering on, possibly trying to find the best permanent fit and releasing these two singles in record time.

On "Diamonds," all the musicians who worked on the track are or were also part of other popular groups. Jimi Sero on bass was in the popular cult band Smack and guitarist Ace Mark was part of the legendary Bigelf, an American band which was hugely popular in Finland. For 'Hit the City,' a whole different crew consisting of Tero Rikkonen on bass and guitars, Mikael Tiittanen on drums and percussion and Teemu Holttinen rounding out the solo guitar work. There is definitely a clear difference in styles between the two tracks, mostly due to this difference in the backing band. The one constant, however is Haxu's rock-infused power vocals. He also conscripts his wife, Riikka for backing vocals on both songs.

The cover of 2004's Mark Lanegan alt rock song, 'Hit the City' is pretty messy compared to the original. It seems Haxu tried a little too hard to re-tool this song to fit his hard rock vision, and it thus lacks the passion and misses the point of the original. Rather than the ironic response to loneliness Lanegan originally wrote about, Haxu has turned the song into a raucous party tune. Haxu's vocals on this track will remind listeners of Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie, not necessarily a bad thing, but the sentiment of the song is definitely lost and the production values could be better.

The second track, 'Diamonds', seems a little more natural for Rock Masters Band. This is a true rock song and would make any 80s hair band proud as the heavy guitars drive the song while Haxu?s high-pitched vocals come just an octave short of the classic 80s power scream. This song seems to be more a matter of taste. If you're into power rock, 'Diamonds' is there for you, rocking so hard that you may question whether 90s and 2000s indie ever happened. Production values are still a little funky on this track but it's not as noticeable.

If Haxu is intent on keeping Rock Masters Band up and running, I would say the crew of Jimi Sero, Ace mark and drummer Sami Jarvinen who feature on Diamonds seems a little more natural for him, but that could just be because it's an original song rather than a cover. Overall the technical end of things, also produced by Haxu, seems a little poorly formed. There is potential for Rock Masters Band to return to their former glory, but it looks like Haxu needs some help. As he plans for more releases by the end of 2015, Haxu's greatest task will be to pick a band, find an engineer and do a little delegation so he can work on the Rock Masters Band's sound. Mar 31 2015

Off label

Official release released by the artist themselves without the backing of a label.

Layla Marino

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

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