After parting ways with Bay Area act Electric Sister, hard-hitter Thadeus Gonzalez entered the studio to record his solo debut Utopian Society. The result is nothing but leather-jacket-wearing, motorcycle-riding rock. Gonzalez is a solid frontman with brio and flare––the ideal combination for revitalized classic rock.
Influences such as Black Label Society and Motley Crue abound, as the album is chock full of metallic rhythms that pummel their way through your eardrums. Gonzalez knows what works and milks this knowledge, and a listen to “Devil” or “The Nude Land” will show. Driving riffs, hair metal vocals, and flashy guitar solos construct most of the record in the usual time-tested fashion. It’s an extremely solid album that could’ve easily topped the charts in the mid-eighties. There’s even the requisite innuendo (“Your Needle Scratches My Vinyl”) for the icing on the cake.
However, that’s also its downfall. Gonzalez is formulaic in his writing and uses stock melodies to great effect. This accomplishes a truly muscular sound but one that could be any other hard rock act in the world. He is an excellent singer, hitting anthemic notes that ring out and sound great. His range, however, is limited. Even the cliche ballad “Change the Locks” follows the pattern that the greats have set.
When it’s all said and done, if you like it, you’ll love it. If you don’t like it, you’ll hate it. There’s really no medium when it comes to Gonzalez’s all-out sound. Fans of Theory of a Deadman, Black Tide, and similar bands will absolutely love Society, and it’s well poised to become the metalhead favorite of the year. If it’s taken as a throwback to the honest rock that bands like GNR pioneered, it succeeds at that purpose. If it’s taken as a new statement, it falls flat.
Thadeus Gonazlez “The Nude Land” removed by request