Belly To Belly Volume 1

Warrant '96

CMC International Records, 1996

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


What I'm about to say will shock many people: Warrant has put out a really good album. (I will pause now while the diehard metalheads can stop laughing at me.)

It may seem impossible to believe, but the band that was responsible for such light-weight drivel as "Cherry Pie" regrouped and found their focus. Their first album as Warrant '96 (I don't know if it was their only - CMC International's web site has been down for a week), Belly To Belly, challenges the listener's preconceived notions of the band as well as the definition of hard rock. While there are some rough edges here, the bulk of it is surprisingly good.

It doesn't seem like anything has changed at first. As Jani Lane's vocals begin on the opening track "In The End (There's Nothing)", it sounds underpowered, despite a great rhythm track created byguitarists Rick Steier and Erik Turner, bassist Jerry Dixon and drummer Bobby Borg. But a well-crafted song like this is bound to overpower any weaknesses - and though it takes a couple of listens, it succeeds.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Warrant seem to have dispensed with the cock-rock that marked their decline, and instead concentrated on the music and its various forms. From light ballads with a serious message ("Room With A View") to kick-ass rockers ("Vertigo"), Warrant is out to earn your respect. They even have their own little inside joke about how they might be seen by the record-buying public on "Coffee House": "So you think my exterior seems a little out of focus / Because I don't talk in cluches that people try to use to stroke us." Make no mistake, this is a new band with new blood.

Even I was skeptical - I've had this disc lying around for months, and finally decided to take a chance on it. If someone had slapped this disc on before, you would have had a rather nasty challenge on your hands trying to convince me this was Warrant.

But while the band is comfortable in the search for their perfect musical voice, occasionally the search does tend to weaken Belly To Belly Volume 1. Mind you, I don't mind hearing ballads mixed in with hard rockers, but it would have been nice to have received a majority of one form or another. And while I appreciate the complexities of songs like "Falling Down," these will have both long-time fans and gawkers wondering what it is about.

Warrant took a big chance by not only making an album so complex, but putting out any album while hard rock / heavy metal was out of the public favor and the band was all but relegated to Trivial Pursuit status. If only Belly To Belly Volume 1 had been given more of a chance by both consumers and radio, this band could have really enjoyed the success I think they earned with this disc.

Warrant is still together, and is still putting out new releases, but Belly To Belly Volume 1 should be picked up as a primer for what to expect in the late '90s from one of the last successful hard rock-lite bands. Whatever you thought of Warrant's past, Belly To Belly Volume 1's strengths are no laughing matter... and I'm not joking.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of CMC International Records, and is used for informational purposes only.