October 7, 2019 Michael Monroe – One Man Gang (Album Review)
One of Finland’s most well-known musicians, Hanoi Rocks’ Michael Monroe is back with his brand new solo album One Man Gang. Set for release on Friday, October 18th through Silver Lining Music, it marks his eleventh overall studio album and first since 2015’s Blackout States.
Recorded and mixed by Petri Majuri at E-Studio in Sipoo, Finland over three weeks span last March, the 12-song LP was mixed by Monroe and bandmates Rich Jones (guitars) and Steve Conte (guitars) on production duties. Additionally his band features Bassist Sami Yaffa (formerly of The New York Dolls and Hanoi Rocks) and Drummer Karl Rockfist who has played with Danzig. All these factors in mind, let us dig right into the meat of an album that is about one thing and one thing only- Rock-n-Roll!
A rockstar through and through, everyone knows Monroe served as the frontman for Hanoi Rocks until their final break-up in 2009, but few realize he was also a part of all-star side projects such as Demolition 23 and Jerusalem Slim featuring Steve Stevens of Billy Idol. Electric on stage and behind the microphone, he has always had a presence that cannot be denied and oozed everything you thought a rockstar should be. Now in his 57th year on Earth, he looks to kick your ass yet again with One Man Gang.
Leaving nothing to chance in doing so, the opening title-cut sets the table for a fun listen with a speedy rhythm that almost instantly launches you into overdrive. A great start that features the one and only Captain Sensible of The Damned, even with this high-paced beginning, the songs that follow swing back and forth between racy and more mellow tempos. There are calmer moments such as “Wasted Years” which features Hanoi Rocks’ Guitarist Nasty Suicide on lead, as well as “In The Tall Grass,” and more thriving moments such as “The Pitfall of Being an Outsider” and “Black Ties And Red Tape.” Then there is the heartwarming, retrospective vibe of “Midsummer Nights,” and the mariachi melodic “Heaven Is A Free State,” which is tucked toward the back-end of the record but still a must listen.
Lasting around 40 minutes front to back, the musicianship of each song is rich and full while not being overloaded with effects or too many different instruments. Furthermore, the mix is tasteful and well-balanced, making for a pleasant listen that does not grow long in the tooth. Like any great Rock-n-Roll album, each song tells a story, but it is up to you to listen closely enough to pick what it’s all about and run with it. There really is much to discover here and that is what makes this album so addictive. Highly energetic, spreading good vibes, and full of catchy tunes that are perfect for dancing along to and simply having a good time, Cryptic Rock gives One Man Gang 5 out of 5 stars.