“From the West Coast waters to the New York streets

Hear it calling me

For the sons and daughters of the wild and free

Can you feel the beat?

Rock is all you need, yeah”

That above is the chorus for “Anthem for America”. A single that Crazy Lixx put out a little while ago. And in many ways, to understand the band, you just have to understand the point here.

See, like I wrote in my review of their 2019 record, there were plenty of us who resented the fact that grunge took our favourite bands away (for a bit – the idea that grunge killed rock is utter horse shit, but that’s a digression that’s not for this review.

Instead, I’d argue that Danny Rexon (who also produces this) is singing about escapism, about the rock n roll dream. About the idea that you can put a record on and it can transport you to somewhere else. Away from the humdrum, the every day grind, the job you hate, the personal problems you might have and, dare we invoke a cliché, to a place where the grass is green and the girls …well you get it, right?

Except, Crazy Lixx aren’t quite the band you expect them to be. Ok, they might do the thing that all hair metal bands did and chuck more X’s in their name than you’d find on the average treasure map, and it might seem like they are sleazier than Axl’s search history.

But they are not. Not at all.

First of all, lets get it said that “Street Lethal” is their best album by a million miles, and the reason is right there at the start of “Rise Above”. It’s a proper metal tinged rock album. Not some dated sleazy sack of crap that has me despairing of the world that my nieces will grow up in.

A metal tinged rock album with swagger, harmonies, and one which sounds uniquely Euro. Never mind that USA stuff, that’s the dream. The reality is “The Power,” the type of anthem that Hammerfall would love, and one which knows that denim – and leather of course – brought us all together.

Then there’s “Reach Out” which sounds proudly like the theme tune for a 1980s cop show, as Chrisse Olsson and Jens Lundgren nail the kind of thing that would make FM fans go weak at the knees, but as if to underline the differences here, they follow this with “Final Fury” an epic sounding instrumental, that would have no business on a Tuff album at all. The point is underlined yet again that forget what you thought. These lads are thinking bigger. To that end. The title track is a belter. You can see Biff Byford singing this one, and there’s a big, blues swagger about  “Caught Between The Rock N Roll”.

I’ve never hidden my love for Bon Jovi’s early work in my reviews of this type of thing, so you have to suck a thoughtful tooth when you are faced with a power ballad as power and as ballad as “In The Middle Of Nothing”. It doesn’t actually say on the credits that Richie Sambora plays the guitar, but he might as well.

“One Fire – One Goal” is vaguely modern, in that it sounds like a modern band trying to play classic sounding pop rock, but whether that one’s a bit thin or not is rendered moot by the utterly colossal sounding “Thief In The Night” – all seven and a half minutes of it. This is not the work of a throwaway band. Not for a second. This is the work of a deadly serious one.

Their record company reckons Crazy Lixx are “steadily continuing on their march for world domination” and why not? Hyperbole is their job after all. That pre-supposes though that music like this is capable of that any more. Whatever the case and whether or not you can “feel the beat” or are still happy with “Slippery When Wet” and all your other albums from 1986, doesn’t alter one thing.

And that is this: “Street Lethal” is superb. A record from a band trying to push the boundaries and challenge expectations. And if you think “they” don’t write them like this any longer, then Crazy Lixx sort of do, but on their own terms.

Rating 8.5/10