rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Rise
02. #Rebel
03. Banshee
04. Other Side of the Rainbow
05. Small Town Beautiful
06. The Mask
07. Thicker Than Blood
08. Save Me
09. Hurricane
10. X Out
11. Beautiful Girls
12. Here's to the Losers

When most people think of EXTREME, the omnipresent ballad "More Than Words" comes to mind. Sure, the song is one of the most memorable rock love songs of all time, but EXTREME have so much more to offer. Their 1990 album "Pornograffiti", the same one that features "More Than Words", is jam-packed with heavy rock bangers and some of the genre's finest guitar playing, à la guitarist Nuno Bettencourt.

Now, EXTREME have returned with their sixth studio album, appropriately titled "Six", and it doesn't hold back. Anyone who thinks guitar-driven rock is dead needs to listen to this record; it'll convince even the most skeptical that the guitar will never die.

Opening track "Rise" launches with a groovy, chunky guitar riff from Bettencourt that somehow recalls the opening seconds of STAIND's "For You". An unlikely comparison, perhaps, but those similarities are short-lived, as "Rise" continues into a fast-paced, raging rock tune showing off Gary Cherone's unique vocals and thick harmonies. This is a choice song to kick off the album, as it showcases tight songwriting and the kind of musical chemistry that can only come from a band that's been around for as long as EXTREME.

"#Rebel" follows, ushering in more wicked guitar playing and sharp soloing. Here, Kevin Figueiredo's drums and Pat Badger's bass take center stage, as their rhythms move the song along and provide its gutting, groovy backbone. "Six" gets a dose of classic rock with "Banshee", which offers big, traditional-sounding guitar riffs and a shot of blues. Think AC/DC or VAN HALEN-flavored rock 'n' roll.

While some bands don't know when to bring things down, EXTREME doesn't fall into that trap. From the heavy "Banshee", the band continues into the acoustic ballad "Other Side of the Rainbow", which oozes with melody. It's not the only softer song on "Six", either, as "Small Town Beautiful", "Hurricane" and "Here's to the Losers" offer more bare-bones fun. Of those, "Small Town Beautiful" really stands out as one of the strongest songs on the set. The love song has Cherone singing adorations to his "Small Town Beautiful" alongside twangy guitars and memorable hooks.

"Thicker Than Blood" marks one of EXTREME's most experimental songs to date. It works in electronics and shows the band's fearlessness when it comes to embracing a more modern sound. Cherone insists that "love is thicker than blood" in this jam-y number, which also features a stellar guitar solo from Bettencourt around the two-minute mark. "X Out" is another song that sees EXTREME experimenting with electronics. One of the most dynamic songs on the set, "X Out" mashes a bunch of different sounds together, from energetic guitar soloing to delicate chords to chanting vocals.

It's not easy for a band that has been around for decades to keep their sound imaginative and fresh, but EXTREME does it with "Six". The album shows the guys moving outside of their comfort zone but still has enough bread-and-butter rock 'n' roll to keep longtime fans satisfied: a winning combo.

Author: Anne Erickson
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