A while back I received a friend request on MySpace. How often are we all bombarded with the next set of wannabe rockers trying to pimp themselves out on our pages? I almost hit the deny button, but I was intrigued by the band name and figured I’d at least give a quick listen. Imagine my chagrin to discover this was not a pack of wannabes but rather a skilled set of have-beens and still-ares. Freakshow has the talent and recognizable big name players to be considered a super group, yet they offer something much more than high-end names. Freakshow is THE band you’ve been waiting two decades for! So step inside and rock this way, and allow me to introduce you to the freaks in Freakshow.
Freakshow begins with vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Markus Allen Christopher. Markus brought his bag of tricks from Canada to front San Francisco based M!ss Crazy, a glam metal band reminiscent of all the great hair-bands of the 80?s. The band released Can’t Get Enough in 2007 and II in 2008, before Markus decided to take time to do a solo project. Markus’ new material could certainly have been the basis for the next great M!ss Crazy CD, but these songs are even edgier and more powerful than his previous works. As the project got closer to recording, Markus reached out to friend and drum legend Frankie Banali (Quiet Riot/WASP) who readily agreed to bring his thundering abilities to bear. The duo then called on Cinderella guitarist Jeff La Bar, who was also eager to jump on board. To thread the songs together, the guys called on the fretless bass monster Tony Franklin (The Firm/Blue Murder). Suddenly the freak from the north found himself at the epicenter of a heavy metal earthquake. What started as an off-shoot solo project escalated into a rock and roll inferno.
In April 2009, the much anticipated CD was released, and I can say without question it is the best debut CD from any band so far this year. I further suspect it will be in the top five of all new releases by year’s end. The explosiveness and magic these four produced together is dynamic, and the songs crackle with raw energy. Markus’ influences can be heard throughout the 11 tracks, and his voices fluctuates in style from a young Stephen Pearcy (Ratt) to classic Joe Elliott (Def Leppard) and even pulls in the raspy but warm inflections of Steve Whitman (Kix). Frankie’s drummer drives though on every track, pummeling the listener, yet breathing emotive balance. Jeff’s fretwork meshes classic raw metal power with his trademark sleek crispness. Tony’s bass playing as always is in that unique zone of rarified talent that is near impossible to put into words. He plays with undulating grace and rhythmic austerity which is mesmerizing to listen to.
The one note of heartbreak here is that Tony cannot tour with the band. He has other obligations which prevent his hitting the road with the rest of the boys, but I have no doubt the band will find a suitable replacement who meshes in with the band’s dynamic synergy.
The self-titled CD opens with “Welcome to the Freakshow,” which has Markus’ chameleon vocals channeling Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots/Velvet Revolver). The song lures you in without expectation and then ensnares you in its melodic web, sinking its metal teeth deep into your psyche; the sweet poison lingering long after the song has ended. The party continues on “Everybody” which should be the band’s first single. The song brings in a Cinderella-esque rolling guitar riff and a crunchy rhythm that makes one start pounding those air drums. The next track “You Who Wins” teases us with a Zepplinish quality before slamming us with a present-day metal kick to the gut. On “It’s Really Over” the band stops teasing us and gives us a feel for what a modern Zeppelin might have sounded like. “Burning Me” is built for arenas as is “Mindgame” which is a sonic rollercoaster ride. “Looking Back At Me” is another stand out track you’ll want to crank to 11. There are no weak songs in the bunch.
Freakshow flows with an identifiable continuity, classic influences can be heard throughout, yet the band retains its individuality on every song from the opening track, to the final acoustic roll out of “Mistaken.” The band and the CD blend outrageous musicianship with solid harmonies to create molten metal magic. Am I getting my point across? You need to own this CD! Check them out at www.freakshowrox.com or myspace.com/freakshowrox.
“Can you feel me? Everyone. Everybody!”