Album Review by Erik Svennson

 

Josh Todd and The Conflict’s debut album is a departure for the Buckcherry singer.  Year of The Tiger, out September 15 via Century Media, features Todd and Stevie Dacanay of Buckcherry, but drops much of the bravado found in releases by their other band.

Todd states, “The Conflict stuff is heavy, melodic and honest, with a lot of risk taking and these are the records that bring out the best in me.”

The album begins with a heart pounding and heavy track “Year Of The Tiger” about betrayal, as Todd sings “They’ll feed your body to the tigers.”

The lyricism and themes of Year of The Tiger are more emotionally vulnerable than much of Todd’s previous output in Buckcherry.

On “Fucked Up” and “Rain” Todd sings about feeling like going off the rails during hard times and uncertainty of the future, echoed in “Good Enough.”

The lyrics of the album aren’t particularly groundbreaking but they convey emotions and fears that are familiar and relatable.  While the originality of the album is lacking, the honesty of the tracks is refreshing.

The musicianship of the album is very impressive, as many of the songs feature impressive guitar work and gives the album a much larger feel that fits well with Todd’s vocals, which at times evoke early Axl Rose. When the instrumentals are more stripped-down, such as on “Good Enough,” the guitar part still finds the opportunity to showcase impressive musicianship with an intricate acoustic solo.

The weakest point is the when the album leaves its grounded themes behind for a cover of Prince’s “Erotic City.” The song feels out of place on an album which many of the songs give Todd refreshing vulnerability. It feels like a forced return to non-sequitur bragging and macho posturing that would have a better fit on Buckcherry’s 2015 album, Rock ‘n’ Roll.

The bravado of “Erotic City” continues for the final two songs of the album, but doesn’t fit the lyrics that return to an expression of loss of control and needing help in a time of need. “Atomic” closes the album with Todd singing about losing control, but is presented in a way that feels as if Todd has now decided to celebrate it.

Year of the Tiger mostly succeeds in the honesty that Todd aimed for, but stumbles in its ending by turning back to the tired clichés of celebrating short fuses and self-destruction. The songs are still loud and easy to stomp along to, but miss fully landing the emotional honesty Todd was aiming for.

 

Lyrics: 6/10

Originality: 5/10

Production: 8/10

Musical Skill: 9/10

Overall Impact: 7/10