Right at the end of “Gawdzillionaire” there’s a cover of Blind Melon’s “No Rain”. The original was lovely, a sunny, warm breeze in the middle of alt-rock for those of us that liked Soul Asylum and were looking for similar.
In these hands, it sounds like Adrian Patrick would grab you by the throat and ask you why it wasn’t wet. Here, life doesn’t sound pretty plain at all. It sounds pretty nasty. Which is cool, because, as I wrote the other week, this is 2023, and 2023 is nasty. Plus, you always want covers to sound fresh, and as if they belong to the band that’s recording them. No worries on that score here. This is like the time that Rage Against The Machine took on Springsteen’s “Ghost Of Tom Joad” and threw a Molotov cocktail at it.
At the other end of the record is the opener. “Full Disclosure”. It threatens you. It threatens you, and before the end of the chorus comes the line: “I ain’t like all those motherfuckers I told ya”, and you best not question it.
“Exit Wound”, which follows, is a vehicle for the bass of Nick Bedrosian (who if Wiki is right has now left the band – one of gawdzillion people to do that over the last decade) but it re-enforces the idea that this is aggressive, muscular, but above all (and I am basing this solely on this record) Otherwise mean every word, listen to “New Way To Hate” and come to any other inclusion. This is an anthem.
This time last year, I probably wouldn’t have reviewed this record. Then I saw a band called Three Days Grace and I realised that this was US arena rock in 2023. Shinedown released a belter, so did Alter Bridge and here’s the thing. This is the music I grew up with (the Bon Jovi’s, the Skid Row’s) with 30 years of evolution. It’s just now, instead of Tommy and Gina, it’s you. You have to take a stand. Not someone else. That’s more than the message on “Failure”, it’s the thread that runs through the whole album.
“Coffins” lays into capitalism, and if Otherwise are the masters of sloganeering choruses, then “coffins don’t come with pockets” is the best they have. It’s not just the choruses, though. Put simply, Otherwise are excellent at this. They are excellent at riffs, they are excellent at big, shiny bombast and their lyrics are clever – see “Hollywood Minute” for proof.
The title track features rapper Echoh (the band have a habit of getting famous mates on their albums) “La Familla” isn’t a ballad, but its as close as this gets. Mid-paced rock n roll, which explains how deep the need to create goes and how important an outlet this is, while there’s another guest on “Paradise” as Butcher Babies’ Heidi Shepherd is all over the nu metal flavoured track – not a million miles from Slipknot’s recent material this, and not a mask in sight!
It’s noticeable that nothing here is too long. As if it was a plan that this should be lean and mean. It mines plenty of real pain. FFFD have made a career out of work like “Exorcism” – and the spiral of the thought “you don’t need a doctor, you need an exorcism” lays bare the wounds.
“Camouflage” discusses the current existence thus: “everyone I know is fucking miserable” before it despairs at the social media age. Oh and this is one of the less heavy ones.
It’s somehow fitting that Otherwise are from Las Vegas, because for every one of the high rollers in the penthouse suites or winning big by betting it all on black, there’s life away from the strip. The inequality, the imbalance, the inherent unfairness of the world we live in is probably not shown more starkly than here.
Those people have a voice. They are called Otherwise and they are everything modern rock should be.