It staggered me, to be honest, that ‘Six’ was, well, the sixth (clever what they did there…) of Extreme’s career. It feels like there should have been more. They were always there when I was growing up. I’ve written before about certain touchstone bands for me, like the Electric Boys, but in the weeks and months after I discovered their ‘Funk O Metal Carpet Ride’ record, I gravitated towards Extreme. They were releasing singles from what would become their second album – the classic ‘Pornograffitti’ – and I loved them. I later got their debut and continued to follow them. Although I never saw them live back then, I had the chance a few years ago, and they were sensational. Fresh, energetic, proud of their past but not enslaved by it.
Those words could just as easily describe ‘Six,’ their first album in 15 years. To be truthful, I didn’t listen to their 2008 album at the time, only after I had seen them play live. So, in a very real sense, ‘Six’ represents my reconnection to both the band and my youth. Or, perhaps the Gorilla on the cover is to represent evolution?
The album kicks off with a trio that basically re-announce themselves to the wider world. “Rise,” featuring harder-edged riffing and a stunning solo by Nuno Bettencourt. The guitar work is exceptional, reminding listeners of Bettencourt’s remarkable talent. “#Rebel” takes a bold stance with its vicious takedown of keyboard warriors. The track confronts social media culture head-on, delivering a strong message with its aggressive and energetic tone. “Banshee” brings forth energy and sass. The conclusion after: musically, the band sounds better than ever, infusing the track with their trademark flair.
Then comes “Other Side Of The Rainbow,” there’s a moment where Gary Cherone’s vocals sound remarkably like Freddie Mercury, not the sort of thing I usually forgive, but its too good to be churlish.
The band proves that they are unrivalled when it comes to acoustic balladry (that song, is never far from the mind, naturally) with “Small Town Beautiful.” The track captures their ability to craft heartfelt and soul-stirring songs with beautiful melodies.
“The Mask” stands out with its captivating bass groove and introspective lyrics about the human condition and the search for truth. The song delves into deeper themes than most rock songs and invites listeners to reflect on their own lives.
The brave new world takes in “Love is Thicker Than Blood”, which cheerily embraces electro, and synth elements, creating an oddly mesmerising sonic landscape. Credit to them for their experiments with different genres, resulting in an exciting and fresh track.
“Save Me” enthrals with its unsettling harmonies and an 80s delivery that evokes a sense of nostalgia. “Hurricane” delivers a breathless and powerful performance, with a duet that creates a truly gorgeous dynamic. “X Out” carries a sci-fi essence, adding an intriguing and captivating element to the album. Extreme’s willingness to explore different themes and sounds is evident in this track.
There is, with all due respect, one absolute turkey here. “Beautiful Girls” may seem out of place within the context of the album as a pop music track, and its inclusion remains a mystery. However, “Here’s To The Losers” brings the album back on track with its familiar Extreme sound.
So, yeah, the band sounds way better than they have a right to, and aptly, perhaps, as they always kind of did things under the radar anyway. In 2023, on the quiet, they released something that’s very nearly a classic.