A blast from the past – with a twist
When I first gave Careless’ album a spin, I knew there was a little something that separated this band from a lot of other bands’ albums that come across my desk. It wasn’t so much the style of music that Careless were playing, but something about the way they played, and their overall sound. And sure enough, after a little bit of digging, I discovered that while Coalition is the band’s debut effort, both the album and the band themselves were hardly conceived within the last couple of years.
According to the band’s biography, Careless (who comprise vocalist/drummer James Collins, guitarist Walt Kosar and bassist Nolan Ayres) initially came together sometime in the ‘80’s while attending college in Scranton (Pennsylvania, U.S.) through a mutual love of bands such as Iron Maiden, Dio, Rush, Queensrÿche and the N.W.O.B.H.M. movement as a whole. It wasn’t long before the trio started to record their songs, with plans of releasing an album at some stage further down the track. But somewhere along the way, the completion of studies and the onset of real life took precedence, and the band drifted apart, eventually losing touch with each other. Fast forward to 2008, and Kosar decided to get back in touch with his former band members, and after much discussion, Careless was reactivated.
Rather than start anew, the trio decided to revisit their earlier material, and with the addition of some new tracks, Careless have finally finished the recording of their debut full-length effort Coalition - some 25 years after they first started work on it!
The opening track, Curtains, immediately reveals the band’s obvious love of all things Iron Maiden-like, with the bass playing high in the mix, the incredibly catchy and melodic guitar riffs and solos and Collins’ rather impressive vocals (which brings to mind a mix of Graham Bonnet and Dan McCafferty of Nazareth). Careless perfectly capture the spirit of the N.W.O.B.H.M. sound - from their song writing, their performance, and right down to the old school production.
Follow-up tracks like the anthem-like Boundaries (one of the many tracks where Kosar really shreds throughout the solos), the slower paced rocker D.F.M. (which stands for Don’t Forget Me) and the riff led heavy rocker Out of Control stand out as lost classics from a bygone era, while the newer offerings Contend in Vein, Against Stupidity and The Gods Themselves, despite having a slightly more polished production and hint at some newer influences, prove beyond any doubt that Careless still have more than enough song writing chops to match their older songs.
Unfortunately, while Coalition has some really strong material, not everything on the album works. While all the three short instrumentals (the acoustic guitar based As Time Passes…, the bass driven Between The Mayhem and the progressive drum/keyboard driven 5ive) are interesting, their inclusion on the album tends to disrupt the flow too much. Meanwhile Blackened Walls of Freedom and the lengthy closer Song 9 (the spoken word parts don’t benefit the song much) could have done with a little more work to bring them up to the consistency of the others.
Although some tracks don’t work, there’s more here that does. Coalition is a great album, if a little inconsistent at times. Judged on its merits, I can only hope that Careless plan on working on a follow-up sometime in the future.