The Poodles

Clash Of The Elements

Written by: GR on 02/10/2009 00:51:00

Before receiving this album for review I only knew a couple of things about The Poodles; 1) that they had an awful band name and 2) former guitarist Pontus Norgren left to join the ranks of fellow Swedes Hammerfall after the two bands toured together in 2007. Unfortunately I missed out on the UK show of that tour, so had no feelings either way on whether "Clash of the Elements" was likely to be a decent album or not. An initial listen didn't reveal anything overly promising, with negative factors sticking in my mind rather than any positives. I must, however, have been rather distracted on that first occasion, as repeated listens have revealed this to be a rather enjoyable collection of hard rock songs with a strong leaning towards glam/pomp/soft rock as well a heavy metal edge.

Setting out their stall with opener "Too Much Of Everything", a semi-ballad with piano, orchestration and syrupy lyrics aplenty ("true love is all that you ever need" anyone?) The Poodles make it immediately apparent that any listeners hoping for a something a little rough and raw are going to be disappointed - the album is nothing if not polished. Not that you'd expect anything else from a band that's taken its moniker from a typically pampered creature. The theme of love and relationships preoccupies a lot of the 14 songs on the album, and whilst it's not always obvious if you don't concentrate on the lyrics, the material could justifiably be accused of being cheesy, clichéd and, well, a bit wussy. Thankfully there is variety in the songs and the ballads are more than offset by some brilliantly catchy and massively rocking numbers which provide the real highlights and should have you singing along in no time. Particularly worthy of mention are "Like No Tomorrow", "I Rule The Night" and "7 Days And 7 Nights", the latter kicking off with some honky-tonk piano before launching into a gloriously memorable tune with Whitesnake-like groove and swagger, and a chorus so big it'll have Def Leppard looking nervously over their shoulders. Quite a few of the songs bring to mind a less heavy version of Tobias Sammet's Avantasia project - specifically latest album "The Scarecrow" - with similarities in the voice of singer Jakob Samuel and the use of orchestral-like backing music. Given the excellence of that album, that's certainly to be taken as a compliment.

In fact, the standard of song writing is high throughout the album, providing an enjoyable listen from start to finish, with the first two-thirds being particularly strong .There are a couple of tracks where the band go for a modern hard rock sound, with a down-tuned, almost nu-metal-esque (almost!) tone and whilst these aren't bad songs, they're the ones that left me with the initial negative feelings. Given it's longer than average track list, I feel "Clash Of The Elements" could be have been improved by cutting out some of the weaker songs to produce a more refined and focussed record, as some of the balladeering towards the end gets a bit tiresome. The best testament to this album is probably the fact it can put a smile on your face and make you feel like rocking even when you're in a gloomy mood. At least that's the effect it had on me when it popped on my mp3 player during a depressing bus journey home from a boring day of work, whilst suffering from a cold. One to break out for parties, then.


Download: Like No Tomorrow, 7 Days And 7 Nights, I Rule The Night
For the fans of: Whitesnake, Europe, Wig Wam
Listen: Myspace

Release date 28.08.2009
Blistering Records

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