Halfway There, Mark Slaughter, EMP
Mark Slaughter is back with his second album demonstrating that while his roots are firmly in metal and rock he is not a one trick pony and, as you would expect, has undergone a certain amount of development since the glory days of ‘Stick it to Ya’. Handling engineering/producing/writing duties on this as well as vocals and instruments, it’s a truly personal affair.
The record falls largely into two halves. The first half is more like the traditional metal material many people would expect from Mark, opening with ‘Hey You’ with a shout a long gig friendly chorus, strong guitar presence and beloved waterfall shredding. ‘Devoted’ is even heavier and while still melodic with a great tune it has a driving doom metal style bass line marking the material as post Bay Area thrash while retaining a commercial edge. ‘Supernatural’ is a song with a great hook and whilst firmly rock with butterfly licks in the high range, has a slight r n b influence. It retains the feel of a familiar classic rock song though and, so easily does it run on the ear, it is probably the stand out track on the album. Title track ‘Halfway There’ has a slower groove. Still with a traditional rock sound for which Slaughter is known and loved, it’s halfway to a ballad with harmonies and a statement solo which reminded us a little of Brian May. Everything for a fan of rock classics to like and love. ‘Forevermore’ has an upbeat 80s feel reminding us of Bon Jovi having striking vocals with just the right amount of rasp to give that rugged masculine feel and harmonised energised guitars, again with a dash of influence from Queen.
Moving into the second half we have some material more influenced by the 90s. ‘Conspiracy’ sounds a bit more like Sixx AM. It still has heavy riffs and is undoubtedly guitar-centric, but the vocals have more of an alternative sound. ‘Reckless’ continues this darker post grunge turn with influences from bands like Stone Temple Pilots. “Disposable’ is the 80s ballad that, traumatised by the 90s, has become an emo anthem. ‘Turn It’, while still dark emotionally, is a turn back to more traditionally structured guitar orientated rock with some Philip Glass influence. ‘Not there’, a song about passing on, shows that Mark is far more than the bubblegum glam singer he is sometimes painted to be and the style of the song, being a little more jazz and blues orientated shows him pushing beyond the confines of the rock stereotype.
So whilst there’s enough to keep a dyed in the wool Slaughter fan happy, there’s enough of a glimpse into Mark the man to satisfy those who want to see him grow as an artist and recognise he is more that a man defined by the decade of excess. Overall the second half of the album is challenging, but what worth listening to is not on some level. Props to him for showing us who he really is.