Album Reviews : Treat – Coup De Grace
“Album Of The Year”….four words that many people throw around with a bit too much abandon I think but for me it is these very same words that are the most appropriate description I can think of for Treat’s “Coup De Grace”.
Before I heard this album, I was reading reviews and every one of them was hailing this as a masterpiece. Being familiar with their earlier work and knowing that when treat is good, they are VERY good, I knew I had to track down a copy of this album, hear it for myself, and make up my own mind about it.
Really, the name says it all. This album is a “treat” from star to finish. Very rarely does a disc come along in the melodic rock / AOR genre that is all killer from start to finish, but this is exactly what Treat have done with this release after 18 long years away from the scene. In my opinion 18 years may be a long, long, long time, but “Coup De Grace” is definitely worth the wait (take note Axl).
As a bit of a background for those who may be unfamiliar with Treat, they play some of the finest melodic hard rock you are ever likely to hear. After a decent debut in “Scratch and Bite”, they released one of the genres finest (and most underrated) albums “The Pleasure Principle” in 1986. All of sudden the Swedish bands star was set to explode when a relatively little known band released an album / song called “The Final Countdown” thus rendering any momentum any other Swedish band had that time null and void. Despite releasing classics like “Dreamhunter” (1987) and “Organized Crime” (1989) the band never really got the recognition they deserved despite being so much more interesting and superior to many of their contemporaries. In terms of style, if you like your melodic rock with huge chorus’, catchy riffs, and songs that are going to lodge themselves in your head long after the cd is finished….then you are going to love Treat and “Coup De Grace” in particular.
Every track on this album is fantastic and offers something a little different to the rest of the album. “Coup De Grace” sees the band take a heavy approach (Roar) at one moment and then shift gear to lighter AOR moments the next (We Own the Night). At the same time we get to experience some of the very best straight-ahead rockers (Skies Of Mongolia) to ballads that would make Jon Bon Jovi and Jani Lane hang up the boots (A Life To Die For).
A track-by-track run down of this album is useless as every track on offer here is a sure fire winner. However special mention has to be made of a few of the songs we are “treated” to.
Skies Of Mongolia – At this point of the year, if I was to pick a “song of the year”. This would be it. This is as “experimental” as Treat get on this disc. The guitars take on an almost progressive approach with the song itself taking on a very eastern feel overall. As soon as the very present yet understated keyboards kick in as a prelude to the vocals you can tell this track is going to be an absolute monster of a song. Think “Out Of This World” era-Europe mixed with keyboards you’d hear on a Nightwish album and you may be part way to discovering the masterpiece at hand. If Treat wrote every song like this (and not many are far off from being on the same level on this disc) then surely they’d pick up a whole new generation of fans and would be hailed the masters of melodic rock. Enough babbling, this song is worth the price of the cd alone, just the fact that there are at least 7 other tracks that are just as good is a bonus.
Paper Tiger –This song is so overwhelming that it actually challenges your senses, pounding drums and smashing guitars compliment each other perfectly and build up the biggest chorus this side of “The Final Countdown”. This thing MUST be heard to be believed. The lyrical content of this song is remarkably upbeat and sends a very good message about not letting others hold you back or get to you because most of the time it’s just jealousy. This adds to the overall impact of the song. On a disc that commands to be listened to from start to finish without skipping a track, this is the one song I would pick to listen to a few times before (hesitantly) letting the cd continue. Music in this genre doesn’t get much better than this.
A Life To Die For – As soon as I heard the piano intro and acoustic guitar, I knew exactly where this was going to go. Take the best ballads Europe, Bon Jovi, Gotthard, Warrant, etc have ever come up with and multiply the result by 10. This song brings back memories of everything we all loved about power ballads (even if we are in denial about it). This song has a very Scorpions feel to it in the way they approach their ballads, but better. With huge a chorus, big backing vocals, brilliant vocal lines, melodic guitar solos, this is everything that a power ballad should be and then some. Tip for the guitar players out there, learn to play this on an acoustic and you’ll have that special someone roped in hook, line, and sinker. If you like this, then check out “We Won The Night” for some more melodic rock / AOR gold.
No Way Without You – Probably one of the more up-tempo songs. This song recalls the best of “Dr Feelgood” era Motley Crue and mixed it with some of the finest work of Gotthard. It also contains yet another fantastic chorus with a very anthemic feel to it. This is a downright fun song to listen to and is placed perfectly on the album with the preceding 10 tracks being outstanding and taking the listener through a myriad of emotions, its good to take a step back and just hear this track…though it is just as masterful as the rest of the disc.
I could go on and preach how great each track on this album is, but when all is said and done this is an album that people really MUST listen to from start to finish if you have any interest in melodic hard rock or some AOR.
“Coup De Grace” touches on some very relevant lyrical topics as well with politics, war, in-fighting, and standing up for your beliefs all touched upon at some stage. The musicianship on this disc is simply amazing and everything blends together so well that you can’t help but be drawn into the album as a whole. This is bought out even further by the best production I have heard on a melodic hard rock disc in quite some time where each part of the song and instrument is allowed it’s own space to breathe without getting lost in the mix or becoming muddy.
The only downside to this album is that it is relatively hard to find as it didn’t really get the local distribution here in Australia that it deserves. To that end I highly recommend a store like Realm Of Kaos in Melbourne if you want to track this disc down.
Really not enough good can be said about this album from me. Perhaps the highest acclaim I can give it is that is streaks ahead in my own “Album Of The Year” poll so far and is going to take some beating to be knocked off that perch. I sincerely hope that metalobsession.com readers give this disc a chance too and make up their own minds about it. For me however, this is as close to a perfect disc as I could find this year. 10/10
Album: Coup De Grace
Genre: Melodic hard Rock
Label: Frontiers Records/Riot!
1. “Prelude – Coup de Grace”
2. “The War Is Over”
3. “All In”
4. “Paper Tiger”
6. “A Life To Die For”
7. “Tangled Up”
8. “Skies of Mongolia”
9. “Heaven Can Wait”
10. “I’m Not Runnin'”
11. “No Way Without You”
12. “We Own The Night”
13. “All For Love”
Reviewed by Nick Tevelis
The older metal heads and rockers out there may well remember a Swedish band going by the name of Treat from the 80s, when hair metal was at it’s climatic point of glory, and the grunge revolution was still only an idea formulated in garages around Seattle. The younger crew may have heard of Treat from more recent times, after they reunited in 2006 with their comeback album Weapons of Choice, having broken up in 1993. It’s not an easy thing for a band to rise up from the ashes of their own glory and try to reach that high point again, and given the current trends in metal, it would be wrong to suggest that Treat can do that. But I was surprised at how damn close the band have come with their new album Coup De Grace.
Given the title and artwork, I was expecting a concept album concerning itself with the art of war, and the opening intro did little to make me believe otherwise. Quotes and speeches from modern history have been clipped together with an epic orchestral background, with inclusions from Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King and various radio presenters reporting on the wars and tragedies of the past century. But the concept goes no further than this, and a lot of the other tracks on the album are more reminiscent of hair metal’s glory days, concerning rock, girls and love.
Whilst the band have retained their hair metal attitude, the sound has been merged with European melodic rock that reminds me of bands such as Gotthard, whilst the obvious influences such as Motley Crue and WASP are there.Roar and We Own the Night are two of the greater highlights of the album. The previous is a provocative song with powerful lyrics that shout “Ready to Roar!“, whilst the latter is not so hard rocking, but it has a fast paced rhythm and some beautiful, graceful guitar overlying it.
It wouldn’t be a Treat album without some beautiful acoustic ballads, and A Life to Die For fulfils this well, with some well placed lead guitar weaving it’s way amongst the acoustic guitar making it even more enchanting. My only real dispute with the album is that I was hoping for a conclusion as strong as the introduction, but the final trackBreathless didn’t come close to fulfilling that hope.
This isn’t the album that will herald the return to the glory days of hair metal, but it does prove that it can still kick arse in a metal environment very different to that of the 80s. This album lives up to its name as being a Coup de Grace. Buggered if I know what it translates to, but the album is gracefully pulled off with stylish precision. 8/10
Reviewed by Steven Inglis