HURTSMILE (Gary Cherone) – Hurtsmile + new song 2019
It’s been a busy couple of years for Gary Cherone – and not just with Extreme. There’s also new music in the making from Cherone’s other band HURTSMILE, which he jokingly referred to as his “mistress” in a recent conversation. This band self-titled debut rocks, and we have as well the new song released for the last holiday season / new year’s eve.
Extreme and one-time Van Halen front-man Gary Cherone started this side-project with his brother in 2007. Hurtsmile consists of Gary’s younger brother Mark on guitar (once a member of the band Flesh with Nuno Bettencourt’s brother Paul), the Boston fellas Joe Pessia on bass (once a member of Nuno’s Dramagods as well as the guitar player for Tantric), and student of Mike Mangini (former Extreme drummer) Dana Spellman on drums.
Cherone said; “Hurtsmile was about returning to my roots, writing a record in my basement, a straight up rock ‘n’ roll record… but it turned out to be more diverse and ambitious than I expected.”
Is it “Hurtsmile” classic Extreme? Van Halen III? Something new entirely?
All and even more.
Although filled with a diverse variety of musical styles, it is first and foremost a groovy hard rock record, complete with Gary’s impressive soaring vocals – even though at times he sounds like a completely different person, and that’s a good thing.
The album opens with one of the hardest tracks on the CD, and vocally gritty. It’s a very good, heavy-guitar song and is lyrically reminiscent of the classic Extreme tune ‘Rest In Peace”, pondering the virtues of war. There is great bass work throughout and a nice lead solo in the middle. This is an extremely high energy, up-tempo rocker and a killer way to kick off this disk.
Interestingly, towards the end of the disk the band reprises this song, choosing a reggae style. Not exactly what you’d expect on a hard rock record, but somehow it works.
“Stillborn” is mid-tempo rocker with heavy guitar tones, quite modern but with a glossy colour. “Love Thy Neighbor” starts with a cappella singing (can you say ‘More Than Words’ ?) before kicking into a cool guitar rhythm.
“Kaffur (Infidel)” is an Extreme III style song but with a serious twist, including processed vocals and an excellent guitar work. The song was inspired by the murder of reporter Daniel Pearl. It questions what it takes to be a martyr and whether or not you would be willing to die for your beliefs. Lyrically, it’s quite disturbing since it is told from the point of view of the murderers.
“Painter Paint” is a little, friendly tender tune, a lovely acoustic piece that Exteme fans will love. “Tolerance Song” opens with Gary screaming the classic Rodney King quote “Why can’t we all just get along”. It has a heavy guitar riff and, once again, effects on the vocals. It’s an extremely up-tempo song with groovy guitars throughout.
The guitar lead-in that starts “Set Me Free” presumes a hard rocker but then goes mellow before picking back up again towards the end and features the mantra “Save me from myself”. Interesting guitar work here.
“Jesus Would You Meet Me” is a very cool church revival song. It’s certainly not hard rock but it’s a great showcase for Gary’s voice. Features an acoustic guitar, complete with hand claps and good vibe.
“Slave” is a typical Extreme song with a strong chorus but then develops into a calm middle section with ambient keyboards. 2 songs in 1. Think ‘Extreme III Sides’-part III song.
Then there’s more than a hint of Zeppelin in “Beyond The Garden”, a laid back, relaxed acoustic tune. The the final cut “The Murder of Daniel Faulkner (4699)” is a fine, acoustic tune with Gary this time channeling Bob Dylan. It’s about the true-life story of a police officer killed in the line of duty, complete with bagpipes at the end. Gary is no stranger to taking on intense topics, and Hurtsmile is no exception.
Overall, “Hurtsmile” is a very intense and diverse album. Musically, there are definitely parallels with Extreme but less ‘funkier’. The first half of the record is a group of loosely knit songs, while the 2nd is more conceptually cohesive; an introspective look at the nature of man and the condition of the human heart. The album is lyrically thought-provoking but not exhausting.
It’s obvious that there is strong chemistry between bothers Mark and Gary. Mark definitely sounds like a guitarist with something to prove. He often eschews guitar flash in favor of creating solid foundations for songs, and when needed, his soloing is intense, with a retro feel.
Fans of Extreme will definitely like it as well as all hard rock fans who have an open mind to different musical tastes and non-traditional arrangements.
Additionally, we have the new Hurtsmile song ‘Mama’s Boy’, a gentle piece with lovely lyrics written by Gary for the last Christmas.
01 – Just War Theory
02 – Stillborn
03 – Love Thy Neighbor
04 – Kaffur (Infidel)
05 – Painter Paint
06 – Tolerance Song
07 – Set Me Free
08 – Jesus Would You Meet Me
09 – Slave
10 – Beyond The Garden/ Kicking Against The Goads
11 – Just War Reprise
12 – The Murder Of Daniel Faulkner (4699)
13 – Mama’s Boy (new song 2019)
Gary Cherone – Vocals
Mark Cherone – Guitars
Joe Pessia – Bass, Mandolin
Dana Spellman – Drums, Percussion