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17/04/2010 Vertical Horizon - Burning the Days Review
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|Vertical Horizon - Burning the Days Review|
|17-04-2010 08:14 | 0 comment(s)|
| In the summer of 2001, few bands were as ubiquitous as Vertical Horizon. Their major-label effort Everything You Want, had just been certified double platinum, their third single "You're a God," was in full rotation and a stadium headlining tour was in full swing. And then somehow despite all that momentum, everything positive unraveled.
In September of 2003, the band released the underrated Go, but its impact was barely felt as the band crumpled under the weight of record label RCA's restructuring plans. Problems further compounded when lead single "I'm Still Here," didn't take off at radio and RCA abandoned the quartet altogether. Lead singer Matt Scannell even conceded that the band had "floundered," and were left "withering on the vine." Disappointed with RCA, the group backed out of their contract and found backing in Hybrid Recordings, who re-released Go, and sent the song "Forever" to radio. While it landed at a select few radio stations, the single didn't take off in the way the band had hoped and everything stalled. Adding insult to injury, drummer Ed Toth left the band to join the Doobie Brothers and Scannell became more focused on his songwriting partnership with 80s soft rock star Richard Marx. For all intents and purposes Vertical Horizon was dead.
So it comes as utter shock that the band returned to the studio last year to record their sixth album Burning the Days. Produced by Matt Scannell at his home studio, the disc features help from Rush drummer Neil Peart, who co-wrote closing track "Even Now." While the band can certainly be applauded for attempting to make a comeback, there's little reason to think Burning the Days is the album that will do it. While it's a commendable album, there's little that sounds modern, crisp or relative. Lead single "Save Me From Myself," is a thunderous and intense alt-rock sendup that does its best to sound relative and of-the-moment but comes across as nothing but an imitation. Syrupy ballad "I Believe In You," is another overwrought effort, as are the banal "Back To You," and the placid "Can You Help Me?" The album's first three tracks, "All is Said and Done," "The Lucky One" and "The Middle Ground" are unfortunately all that are worth remembering. While it's probably not entirely true, the entire effort feels more like one big exploration into Matt Scannell solo territory than that of a triumphant Vertical Horizon return. Though the group still retained founder, guitarist and co-songwriter Keith Kane, as well as bassist Sean Hurley, they really serve more as session musicians backing up Scannell's soft-rock fare.
The biggest problem with Burning the Days is that very few of the songs feel relevant in the current musical climate. Scannell has never shied away from his musical kinship with Marx and a good chunk of this album feels exactly like a Richard Marx album. The clunker "Here" and the tepid "Afterglow," marry together with cliched lyrics about romance, syrupy strings and oft-overwrought vocals. Towards the album's conclusion, Burning the Days finally heats up, but still can't do anything to stamp the album as memorable. While the blistering guitar solo at the end of the crunchy "Welcome to the Bottom," and the poignant album closer "Even Now, are some of the album's best moments, their placement is all a little too late. Even though Scannell's vocals are astounding at times, that's only one part of a very complex equation.
Listening to this disc brings to mind a few questions. How is it a band that once put together the filler-free Everything You Want can release this underwhelming effort? Has all the time off left this band utterly clueless? Does Matt Scannell really think the songs on this album are the path that will return him and his band to glory? For a band as talented as they are, Burning the Days is nothing but a gigantic disappointment. And if this truly is the best the band can do, then they might as well pack it in and call it quits.
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