Released: May 21, 2010 (Europe only)
Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I was fortunate enough to see Y&T play at my high school back when they were still known as Yesterday and Today. After a couple of albums the band trimmed their name to Y&T and debuted the album Earthshaker in 1981, and spent the rest of the decade releasing some of the best and most underrated and under-the-radar hard rocking metal of all time. Songs like “Hurricane,” “Rescue Me,” “Barroom Boogie,” “Open Fire,” “Meanstreak” and “Summertime Girls,” are but a few of their infectious classics.
Y&T have always been one of those unsung bands that play crushing rock and roll anthems with brilliant riffs, thundering drums and a readily identifiable voice leading the way. Lead guitarist and vocalist Dave Meniketti has a rugged rock and roll voice that sets him apart from just about everyone short of Sammy Hagar. His guitar playing has an even more distinct voice and signature. Together they create a sound any fan knows immediately.
Thirteen years have passed since the last Y&T studio offering, and expectations are high. For the most part those expectations are fulfilled on Facemelter. This is classic Y&T, from the cover, which was done by the same artist, John Taylor Dismukes who did classic Y&T covers like Meanstreak, Black Tiger and In Rock We Trust, to the final chords of album’s 13th and final track, “Blind Patriot.”
On Facemelter, Meniketti returns along with the band’s other founder, Phil Kennemore. While Dave’s voice has changed slightly over the years with age, it’s still a dynamic centerpoint of the band’s sound. Original drummer Leonard Haze has once again stepped down from the kit, but Mike Vanderhule brings his own brand of power to the mix. Longtime band friend and guitarist John Nyman has been with the band for quite a while now, and once sang back-up on the band’s brilliant In Rock We Trust record.
From the opening “Prelude,” the band hammers into “On With The Show,” a classic piece of anthem-esque Y&T songwriting. Pump your fists and wail on those air drums.
Here we discover perhaps the album’s one definable weakness, which is in the production. The inherint genius in Y&T’s sound has always been the wall of sound created by the upfront, in your face guitars. On Facemelter they seem a touch low in the mix, and the sound isn’t as full as we’ve come to expect from Y&T. But that’s simply parsing hairs from a diehard fan.
Kennemore’s bass rolls us into “One Life,” a mid-tempo rocker about living in the moment. Carpe Diem!
Next the album slows down just a bit for melodic and powerful rocker, “Shine On.” “Now she smiles in the mirror, checks out her ass in those true religion jeans,” Dave sings. “Shine on for me!”
If one didn’t know any better, they’d think the groove heavy track “I Want Your Money” was written as an open letter to Gene Simmons. This is one of the albums many gems.
“I’m Coming Home” will take any fan back to 1982’s Black Tiger album. Pure old school Y&T.
The album’s final track, “Blind Patriot” is as CD title would suggest, a face melter, that harkens back to the Earthshaker record, while still bringing in a raw modern feel. The song is a monster salute to our brave men and women who blindly jump in to serve and guard our nation!
The album also has to bonus tracks, “Losing My Mind,” and “Deadly Deceiver.” The latter just rams it home with a riff barrage reminiscent of Judas Priest.
In all, Facemelter offers fans 13 (15 with bonus tracks) new Y&T headbangers that are a blend of tight grooving rockers, melodic power, and that classic Y&T vibe we’ve spent years yearning to hear more of. Meniketti and Co. have returned with a platter of ballsy and bluesy anthems that focus on the substance of the songs over the flash and fluff so many other bands settle for.
Welcome back, guys. You’ve been sorely missed!