Theory Of A Deadman – ‘Wake Up Call’ (Roadrunner Records/604 Records) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Jonni D   
Monday, 13 November 2017 04:20

Theory sleeve loresFrom the very beginning of their career, Theory Of A Deadman never had it all that easy. The “Nickelback-lite” insults were hurled their way from an early stage, thanks to their dirge-filled debut being released through Chad Kroeger’s 604 Records, the divisive frontman sharing a co-writing credit for the entire album. While this made the band an easy target, the criticism was earned; Theory Of A Deadman’s self-titled release was a dreary, plodding mess of post-grunge posturing, highly indicative of all that was wrong with rock music in 2002.


After a bit of a shakeup in their sound, the Canadian rockers seemed to be on an upward trajectory (however slight) with a couple of decent efforts in the form of 2005’s ‘Gasoline’ and 2008’s ‘Scars And Souvenirs.’ Alas, any hopes were scuppered by the derivative and formulaic drivel offered up on the succeeding follow-up records – the nadir arriving with the low-hanging fruit of 2014’s ‘Savages’, the epitome of brainless radio rock for the masses. Remarkably though, Theory Of A Deadman has outdone themselves with the abysmally misjudged ‘Wake Up Call.’


It’s rather telling that the less egregious moments on this, the band’s sixth full-length, are the concessions to the more tedious leanings of the last couple of albums. The insipid balladeering of ‘Echoes’, ‘Loner’ and the title track are entirely perfunctory, lighters-in-the-air numbers, which although utterly lifeless, are at least stylistically familiar terrain for Tyler Connelly and co. Put simply, as an album ‘Wake Up Call’ is at its most bearable when it sticks to the radio rock drudgery. It’s when things go “experimental” that the quality changes from inoffensively boring to laughably ill-conceived.


Opening song ‘Straight Jacket’ is pretty telling of the drastic shift in sound that Theory Of A Deadman adopts for the majority of ‘Wake Up Call,’ with the grammatical error of the title being the least reprehensible aspect of the track. From the infuriating plinking keys and Tyler Connelly’s new-found penchant for rapping (of such a quality that makes sound like Dr. Dre), to the sickeningly maudlin chorus replete with horribly fake sounding strings, it’s initially difficult to ascertain what audience the band are trying to target.


As the record goes on, it becomes more apparent that this is a cynical attempt to for a pop crossover success, not dissimilar to Fall Out Boy’s efforts of recent years (see ‘G.O.A.T’). Hence, drum machines are randomly and hideously utilised with increasing frequency, and auto-tuned whistling hooks wreak aural havoc on ‘Rx (Medicate)’ and ‘PCH.’ The rap vocal is the most prevalent new inclusion, sounding even more ridiculous atop the pseudo-country backdrop of ‘Rx (Medicate)’ and the hilariously unironic bridge section to ‘G.O.A.T.’ ‘Time Machine’ sounds like it came from the Simple Plan playbook of insipid pop ditties, while ‘Po Faced’ sounds painfully dated to the era of ‘Heaven Is A Halfpipe.’



If nothing else, this album at least somewhat distances the band from the Nickelback comparisons. However, the alternative is apparently a hell of a lot worse. This is a shockingly synthetic sounding album, whose shoddy lyricism goes hand in hand with the poorly judged musical choices throughout. With barely any trace of their established sound, ‘Wake Up Call’ comes across as a desperate attempt to wear the clothes of pop music. Unfortunately for Theory Of A Deadman, they fit terribly.


‘Wake Up Call’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.


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