Wheelrunner
Bloodpaint

The run had to come to an end. I’ve enjoyed a parade of pretty good 1970s and ‘80s inspired rock and metal over the first couple of months of the year. I knew it couldn’t last.

Greek trio Wheelrunner has a lot of problems, the main one being that they can’t decide if they want to play traditional metal in the vein of Judas Priest or glam rock. They end up pulling from some of the worst of both, as on album opener “Proof of Love,” which sounds like a cross between Twisted Sister and some of Priest’s more pop leanings without having the appeal of either.

It doesn’t stop there. “Street Child” is just a mess, blending Kiss, punk and Priest, though the Vito Bratta-influences guitar licks early on the song are interesting. “Rock Star” sounds like a throwaway track from one of Ratt’s later records with a chorus that plays to some of the worst that the 1980s had to offer. “A Walk Through the Rain” is the completely uninteresting ballad that shows the considerable weaknesses in the vocals of Mike Madness.

It’s not all horrible. I like the southern-fried groove of Madness’ main guitar riff on “Snake Bite,” and there’s some nice bass work on the song by Panagiwtis Savage. Madness returns to the southern-influenced sound on the opening of “In Cold Blood,” but the glam quickly takes over again.

Even when the songs are not bad, as with “On Fire,” other elements spoil it. The mix on the record is a big weakness, featuring that hollow sound common on garage-recorded outings. “On Fire,” in particular, has a very rough mix, especially with the drums. Some static on the louder drum parts sounds like the recording levels might have been a little too high. It’s strange since the drums are a bit buried on other songs.

Lyrically, these songs are full of a cocky bravado that the music just doesn’t back up with the same confidence and swagger.

Originally released in 2008, “Bloodpaint” certainly hasn’t gotten better with age, and it pales in comparison with records in a similar vein that are out there now. If they want to compete in the genre, it may be time for Wheelrunner to head back into that garage and work on their chops.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Fred Phillips
March 18th, 2010

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