Genre - Hard Rock / Classic Rock
Label - Mausoleum Records
01 - Another Day In Grey - Pt. 1
02 - Move On
03 - Big Trouble
04 - The Only Way
05 - The Cage
06 - The Ocean
07 - Oh Boy!
08 - Underground
09 - Village Of The Damned
10 - Song For A Fool
11 - Fuck You All (bonus track)
Featuring some of the most renowned Classic Hard Rock artists in the lineup, HOLLYWOOD MONSTERS is the creation of French guitarist and composer Stéphane 'Steph' Honde who, after considerable success in his native country, has made California his home since 2012.
He's been busy these last two years writing music for his new project and this first album entitled "Big Trouble", just released by Mausoleum Records.
Honde has been able to garner the help of some legendary musicians including bass player Tim Bogert (Vanilla Fudge, Cactus, et al), keyboard player Don Airey (Deep Purple, Whitesnake, et al), and drummer Vinnie Appice (Dio, Black Sabbath, et al). Early Iron Maiden vocalist Paul Di'Anno, with whom Honde also toured with, adds vocals on the bonus track "F*ck You All".
It's all quite impressive, but what's inside?
The answer would be mostly traditional hard rock with a strong melodic foundation, with Honde's guitar work front and centre. The title cut is a good example of how the elements blend: intense riffs, good melody, catchy refrain, and a concise sweaty solo in the mix.
Hollywood Monsters go for groove with a metallic edge within "Underground", then "Village of the Damned" (co-written by Appice, could be the heaviest song here, sounding like a cross between a Whitesnake and Black Sabbath song with Honde ripping off a nice solo at the end.
All is balanced by more melodic rock oriented numbers like the semi-ballad "The Only Way" where Honde vocals turn a bit Coverdale-esque, the really nice acoustic "The Ocean" embellished with classical strings, and the bluesy & sweet "Oh Boy!".
One of the highlights is "Song For A Fool", a slow mover and burner, especially in the drum line and Honde's six string work. Maybe you'll think that the solo is a guitar solo, but it's not! It's actually Tim Bogert playing the best bass chorus ever!
The aforementioned "F*ck You All" ends the disc in hard rockin', fun way with nasty lyrics and the tack vocals of Paul Di'Anno.
What I liked about Hollywood Monsters, apart from the solid songs, is the intention of 'Steph' Honde to avoid the rehash of the style and mannerism of the classic rock acts who inspired him.
With Airey or Appice at hand it's hard not to be tempted to write and arrange a song akin Deep Purple or Dio, but Honde and the guys sound authentic and really personal.
"Big Trouble" is an album of varied and creative classic hard & melodic rock songs that will keep your interested. In fact, it's better (and more original) than many classic acts recent efforts
Rating - 9/10