Back in the ‘90s there were plenty of new bands arriving which washed the slate clean from the decade prior. Less glamorous, the new era of Rock was harsher, rawer, and coming in all sorts of different shapes and forms. Sure, there was the Grunge movement with bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains, but there was also a newborn Alternative Rock emerging with bands popping up from all over the globe. You had the likes of Radiohead, The Cranberries, and Blur, but coming out of Northern Ireland, you had one called Therapy?.
Originally launched in 1989, Therapy?’s sound developed over a few years before they made a big international impact on 1994’s Troublegum. An album that featured such well-known hits including “Screamager,” historically, Troublegum is considered one of the best releases of 1994. A turning point in Therapy?’s career, from this point on they showered the ‘90s more chart-topping albums as a part of A & M Records (1995’s Infernal Love and 1998’s Semi Detached).
Riding the waves of change, they continued on into the 2000s with 5 more albums through 2009, and 3 more in the 2010s. A lot of music, of course there were some other changes along the way, and this included the departure of several members; including Drummer Fyfe Ewing in 1996, his replacement, Drummer Graham Hopkins in 2001, plus Guitarist Martin McCarrick leaving in 2004. Some bumps along the way, Therapy? has remained comfortably consistent as a 3-piece band for some time though, with original Vocalist/Guitarist Andy Caims and Bassist Michael McKeegan leading the way, joined by Neil Cooper on drums for over 20 years. So, where is Therapy? now?
A good question to ask, the band remain very active, releasing their Cleave album in 2018, and now return in 2023 with Hard Cold Fire. Their 16th overall studio album, coming 5 years after Cleave, the new material also marks the longest span of time they have gone without releasing new music. Understandable, considering the band’s labor intensive dedication over the past 30 years, it seems they have tapped into some new inspiration for Hard Cold Fire. Looking back to Cleave, the album as a whole had a very different feel. Arguably more distorted and nosier, Hard Cold Fire is more direct and very honed in.
Consisting of 10 tracks, it is just over 30 minutes and plays more like a Punk Rock album in many respects. With this the band offer you some really tight guitars that are reminiscent of older Alternative Rock from the ‘90s, all matched with Caims’ soaring voice and a very energetic delivery. Really refreshing, this is consistent through Hard Cold Fire with some big moments coming during “They Shoot the Terrible Master,” “Woe,” “To Disappear” plus the very retro sounding singles “Joy” and “Poundland of Hope and Glory.”
Everything taken into consideration, Therapy? deliver one of their best albums in recent history with Hard Cold Fire. Finding the perfect combination of heavier elements with more catchy Pop ones, the songs are carved out in such a fashion that you immediately pay attention. A really impressive return from this sustained Alternative Metal/Rock band, Cryptic Rock gives Hard Cold Fire 4.5 out of 5 stars.