Siren Review by Matthew Warnock

There are few things more important to making a great rock album then tone. Yes, catchy and poignant lyrics need to be in place, the band needs to have a hard groove and everyone needs to have their chops in top shape, but almost always, the big difference between an amateur and professional rock record, or a decent and great album, is having solid tone on the guitars, bass, drums and vocals. UK based band Love Commandos erect a wall of in your face rock tone with their album Siren¸ and the result is a record that can stand up to any major release in recent years.

Right off the bat, guitarist Richard Price and Rob Bates make it known that they are accomplished players who need to be taken seriously. The pair of axemen possesses incredible chops, both in their rhythm and lead work, with an acute awareness of the importance of their tone and the emotional quality that long bends, double-stops and slower licks can bring to any song. This is what makes them stand out among other players in the modern rock arena. Songs such as “Respiration” and “Babylon,” for example, kick off with infectious guitar riffs that perfectly set up the opening verses. Though these riffs aren’t overly technical or flashy, they are laid down perfectly in the pocket and are delivered with an almost perfect guitar tone, creating an aura of captivation with the listener that sucks them into the song and doesn’t let go until the final notes float off into the ether.

Besides featuring hard rocking cuts like the ones mentioned above, others are almost Industrial, such as the Prodigy influenced “Breed.” The song kicks off with a synthesized bassline that effectively uses a syncopated rhythm to create a hard-driving groove, leading into the opening guitar riff and verse, where the syncopation continues in both the instrumental and vocal parts. This, besides the band’s focus on solid tone, is another reason why the album is as successful as it is. These guys can not only deliver the goods from a groove standpoint, but they have the ability and musicality to know when to insert rests, both short and long, to lift the musical tension to a new level, before resolving it in the subsequent section. Many modern rock bands will rely on a virtuosic guitarist or vocalist to carry the weight on any given album, but Love Commandos rely on a heightened sense of musical tension and release to create interest throughout the record, a highly effective technique that their peers would be smart to emulate.

While Love Commandos do an excellent job with Siren, there seems to be one thing missing from the album, a little bit of diversity, perhaps in the way of a slower, more dramatic song to sit alongside the faster, rockers that fill the record’s 10 tracks. This is not to say that every modern rock album needs to have a ballad, but after hearing what these guys can do when the tempo is kicking and they are in full gear, one wonders how they would approach a slower track with the same attention to tonal detail and rhythmic variation.

Regardless, Siren is a well-written album that deserves wider attention from the modern rock audience, critics and press. These guys can rock and they aren’t afraid to lay it on the line when the have to, both musically and lyrically. Hopefully this album isn’t the culmination of many years spent perfecting their craft in bars and clubs, but the launching pad to the national and international stage.

Review by Matthew Warnock
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

Dr. Matt Warnock is a highly experienced music journalist, educator and performer who has written books for Hal Leonard and Mel Bay, as well as hundreds of articles for Just Jazz Guitar Magazine, All About and Modern Guitar Magazine. Currently, he is Editor in Chief for Guitar International Magazine where, beyond his editorial duties, he has interviewed some of the biggest names in the business including Robby Krieger, Ace Frehley, Brian Aubert , George Benson and John Pizzarelli. Matt is also Director of Guitar Studies at Western Illinois University and the Executive Director of the WIU Guitar Festival.

Original review available here.