"Freakazoid" (Escapi Music; 2005)

Reviewed by Ray Van Horn, Jr.

This band is too surreal to describe, with their 21st Century boy toy looks, while their music resembles what their older brothers pitched away a generation ago. Would-be contemporary skate punks who play 80s pop styled metal? I know, I know -- Say what?

The dudes of Mennen have obviously spent a lot of time around hair metal, Dokken in particular, but also Scorpions, Keel, Hurricane, Warrant and just about any band you saw on the original Headbangers Ball from 1987 to 1989. Moreover, this Dutch band has been around longer than their nubile stylishness indicates. Their fifth (yes, fifth) album, "Freakazoid," features power rock orientation that is unfortunately remiss of a good bit of the power. 

Kids approaching this disc and expecting another pop punk band are in for a rude awakening. Instead of the advertised Taking Back Sunday doppelganger, they'll get Dokken instead and my, how they'll cry foul! Those of us from the original metal scene will likewise do a bewildered double-take ... are these actually kids playing this stuff? 

Nearly every cliché you might recall of late eighties metal makes an appearance here, recycled by a new generation; count 'em off if you like. Mennen might be able to kick Firehouse's asses, if not too many others. 

The most interesting element to Mennen is the often confusing (if not liberating) Danny Elfman-like vocals of Joss Mennen. Formerly the frontman for Zinatra, Joss knows his way around a song. In other words, think of an Oingo Boingo kitsch slapped upon eighties pop metal ala Slaughter or Tora Tora. Along with some pretty satisfying guitar work by Eric Van De Kerkhof, they rescue their group from mundane narcolepsy. 

The title track gamely combines Dokken with Queensryche, while "Rain" has Dokken-esque quality with a sleazy bass driving this mid-tempo song. "Bob" and "Wicked White" retains George Lynch motifs to their hard riffs while, as you would expect, the power ballads come nearly a dime-a-dozen, "Secrets and Lies" being one, the sweet but overlong "Believe" and "Blue" being others. Lighters up, people!

The best thing I can say about Mennen is it's nice they're keeping the torch lit with their appreciative mimicry. The worst thing I can say is that I couldn't wait to dig out my old Headbangers Ball videos; love it or hate it, the hairball element befits the sound, no offense to Mennen's contemporary GQ model look. Needless to say, Mennen comes off as a major shocker, but hails anyway, guys. Welcome to the flock. We're fewer in numbers than we used to be; maybe we should count our blessings someone has taken interest in our nearly-forgotten way of life. 

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2005 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Sep 2022 13:59:46 -0400.