Wow. It’s safe to say I wasn’t expecting this. Mark Slaughter, eponymous hero of one of hair metal’s biggest late eighties success stories, has come up with a record that is easily the most listenable of its type that I’ve heard in a long, long time. Not only has age not wearied the man’s honeyed pipes – his singing on this album sounds just as it did on such happy-go-lucky MTV faves as Up All Night and Fly to the Angels – it’s given him a maturity in the songwriting department that means this is just about perfect as far as melodic hard rock goes.
Really, the man comes across as something of a last action hero on Halfway There. He sings and plays almost everything on offer, sounding as already noted in career-best form vocally yet also playing some mean guitar along the way, coming up in consequence with a set of cast-iron, all-guns blazing metal lite that won’t fail to get metal lovers of a certain age out of their comfort wear and back into the tightest trousers available to them in short order.
The overall feel is of Skid Row post-debut but pre-Slave to the Grind; There’s a fair deal of heavy riffwork on offer (Reckless is positively Sabbathian, overlain with a Bowieesque vocal in a mix that shouldnt, but does, work), but never of the grunge variety that superannuated hair metallers like to use to prove their ‘relevance’. However this heaviness is never allowed to get in the way of a good melody, with songs such as Forevermore and Supernatural hitting a happy medium between light and shade in gratifying fashion. And then there’s the title track.
Put simply, had Halfway There been written thirty years ago, it would rightfully now be considered one of hair metal’s all time classic big production numbers; however, this is 2017 and hence the song will go completely unnoticed, which is both a tragedy and a travesty. Only you can do something about that. Please do.
Almost perfect, then, and certainly better than most of the old duffers of Slaughter’s vintage that can be bothered to write new music in 2017 are coming up with. Hints of Boston (Turn It in particular is redolent of Tom Scholz and company) abound, whiffs of Nelson occur, but above all this album is 100% Mark Slaughter and that’s a bit of a result. Essential listening.
Halfway There will be released by EMP Label Group on May 26th