February 24, 2014 Andi Deris and the Bad Bankers – Million Dollar Haircuts on Ten Cent Heads (Album review)
When you are the lead singer of one of the world’s most successful heavy metal bands, most of your time is dedicated to maintaining the status quo. To many musicians, scaling those lofty heights and ‘making it’ in the music business is enough to satisfy their muse. For Andi Deris, the voice of German power metal stalwarts Helloween for two decades, touring the world a hundred times over while recording a host of top-notch albums is a pretty incredible achievement. Rather than resting on such impressive laurels, the Karlsruhe, Germany-born virtuoso has decided to grace us with his first solo album in fifteen years. The new project, entitled Andi Deris and the Bad Bankers, sees the fifty year old veteran coming at us with debut album Million Dollar Haircuts on Ten Cent Heads (2013). Comprised of members between the ages of nineteen and twenty-two, the band was formed on Deris’ current home turf of Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Boasting such a humorous band name and album title, one would be forgiven for thinking Deris conceived the project wearing sandals and sipping daiquiris on some gorgeous Spanish beach. One could not be more wrong.
Million Dollar Haircuts on Ten Cent Heads is an album concerned with the soulless machinations of the banks and ruthless corporations who have made such a shamble of so many lives, doing so at the expense of the very taxpayers they have screwed. The infuriating subject matter is neatly packaged into eleven edgy, modern-flavored songs that should appeal to fans of both power metal and hard rock. Closing in on Fifty or not, Deris is in no way succumbing to some age-induced mellowing of his inner fire. Raunchy opener “Cock” sets the tone with its down-tuned guitar intro and clean vocal/distorted vocal trade-off. The track is a puff of dirty cigar smoke in some corporate backroom, exposing all the dirty deals that go down behind our backs. Deris and company shed further light on the grime with “Banker’s Delight (Dead or Alive)”, a rough and tumble hard rock salvo with a melodic, keyboard soaked chorus.
Unafraid to change up the mood, “Blind” is reminiscent of some of Helloween’s mellower moments. Deris’ voice, strong and oh so confident, never soars too high, staying with the down-tuned riffs and keeping things from sounding at all ‘eighties’ or dated. This is not to say there is anything wrong with the tight-pants styles of yore, but with Million Dollar Haircuts on Ten Cent Heads Deris has crafted a record for the twenty-teens; looking forward not back. “Don’t Listen to the Radio (TWOTW 1938)” begins with a Nirvana-like riff and has a chorus almost pop-punk in its delivery. Then the guitar solo at around 2:15 rips from the speakers, reminding us where Andi Deris comes from. All of this happens in just 3:07, ensuring a delightful, entertaining listen that never bores.
“Who Am I” is the longest song on the album, and perhaps its strongest track. The introspective mood, replete with some subtly placed keyboard swirls, will go down as smooth as waves on the beach. You will be humming that powerful chorus for weeks on end. “The Last Days of Rain” sounds like something right off of Queensryche’s Operation Mindcrime. Deris, who wrote all of the material himself, experiments with some different guitar tones such as in the song “This Could Go On Forever”; combining the sensibilities of metal, hard rock, and even a little bit of alternative. Yet each song benefits from razor-sharp focus. The album closes with “I Sing Myself Away”, a lilting acoustic ballad reminiscent of the quieter moments of Dream Theater or Bruce Dickinson. Andi Deris has certainly outdone himself with this release. Million Dollar Haircuts on Ten Cent Heads may wear multiple hats, but rest assured that all of them rock. CrypticRock gives this album 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Review written by Nicholas Franco
Interview - Andi Deris of Helloween - Cryptic RockPosted at 15:45h, 28 December
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