Album Review: Hotel Diablo – The Return to Psycho, California
The band name Hotel Diablo might lead you to believe you are about to receive a deadly dose of Death Metal, however, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. They are quite the standard (Hard) Rock kind of band with catchy sing-along low threat songs. Hotel Diablo hails from California and one of its founding members, Alex Grossi, is best known as the guitarist of Quiet Riot when they reformed in 2004. Grossi has also worked with numerous bands (especially with the 80’s era bands) throughout his career and collaborated on numerous albums. Now, he has a band of his own after coming off the (Steve Adler) Guns N’ Roses tour, Hotel Diablo will release their debut album The Return to Psycho, California, next month. Alex Grossi, along with vocalist Rick Stitch (Adler’s Appetite), bassist Mike Duda (W.A.S.P.), and drummer Mike Dupke (W.A.S.P., John Mellencamp) have recently signed a record deal that will surely help take their hard rockin’ ways to international recognition.
Initially, I thought I was going to hear something a bit heavier. I guess that’s my fault for assuming the world “Diablo” meant anything less than hellish nightmares in the form of growls and blast beats. The name did fool me a bit, but after a couple songs I realized this wasn’t technically a metal band…and I was/am ok with that; just needed to let my guard down a little bit. The opening track, Taken, kicks things into overdrive with one of their more upbeat songs. It is unquestionably catchy and paves the way for the well-rounded mix of rock songs on the rest of the CD. The second track, All These Years, smoothes things out a bit with a more mellow rock song, though still catchy and easy to listen to.
The album continues to mellow with What You Do To Me; a song that reminds me of a lazy, hazy, summer day…for some reason. It’s more of a power ballad very reminiscent of something you would hear from an 80s band, but without the cheese factor. Psycho California brings things back to where the first track started (very upbeat). From then on, the album ebbs and flows from hard rockin’ to slow ballad-like songs and everything in between which I found finger-tapping enjoyment.
Hotel Diablo did a cover of Wonderwall from Oasis. Under normal circumstances, I hate this song. I really do, I never understood the Oasis craze and dare I say that in England! Though I still do not understand the meaning of Wonderwall or what a Wonderwall is, Hotel Diablo made this song less painful for me to listen to. I would have chosen other songs to cover, but this was their choice and perhaps they did it to appeal to UK audiences.
The album also contains two acoustic-type alternate versions of Bury You and What You Do To Me; both of which are really good versions. The vocals are strong (not whiny) and the album has an overall sense of flow to it that keeps it from being redundant and makes you want to hear more. Hotel Diablo is a nice break from bone-crushing metal. They string together catchy melodies without being cheesy. Return to Psycho, California cool alternative when your appetite for music calls for something much less than blast beats and grows.