21 Octayne is a new entry into the hard rock/melodic metal arena, but it only takes one listen to Into the Open's opening track “She’s Killing Me” to get the idea that these guys are not beginners.
The radio-ready hard rocker, with its catchy sing-along chorus and a sound that mashes up Sammy Hagar with Aerosmith, is a perfect example of what these veteran players from groups Rhapsody, Axxis and the Joe Perry Project are capable of.
“Dear Friend” shreds like Megadeth, but the heaviness is contrasted by some understated vocal parts from singer Hagen Grohe, who is being quite sarcastic here when referring to a “dear friend” who is actually a back stabber. And, a few emotional screams are uttered when Grohe can’t take being calm anymore. The song also has a brief bit of humor at the beginning. A phone is heard ringing and is then picked up by Grohe, who starts singing the song to the person on the other end, only to be promptly hung up on.
“Don’t Turn Away” is a driving hard rocker with roots in the classic rock era. The Hagar-ish “Me Myself and I” has a jazzy beginning and features a brief showcase from bass man Andrew Lauer, but the song eventually evolves into a post-grunge rocker. And the title cut is a big, sweeping ballad reminiscent of something Foreigner or Bon Jovi might do.
Too much diversity can be a drawback with some bands, but 21 Octayne pulls it off very nicely here, thanks mostly to Grohe’s classic rock leanings. His singing gives this set of new songs an instant familiarity that fans can get friendly with very quickly.
Into the Open is out now.