If there’s any band since Guns N’ Roses that’s kept the spirit of SoCal hard rock alive, it’s unquestionably Buckcherry. A few throwback-flavoured acts like Dirty Honey and Greta Van Fleet from the Midwest have popped up in recent years, but in terms of channeling a recognizable sound and scene and being cut from that cloth, Buckcherry is one of the very few that keeps it not only pure and to the script but fresh and current at the same time; never coming off intentionally dated or lagging behind the pack. With their new Hellbound, after 8 previous records running off of their effective and identifiable formula there’s no reason to expect anything different.
“54321” comes in like a cocked fist, a straight shot of rough-edged GNR-style attitude straight to the face and ears to get the party started. “So Hott” is more Velvet Revolver with Josh Todd as vocalist (which was actually almost a thing), and in the case of “Hellbound” you could call it AC/DC with a twinge of “Lit Up” thrown in. The “Rag Doll” beat and harmonica on “Gun” channel Permanent Vacation Aerosmith to a tee, while “No More Lies” draws no glaring comparison aside from some casual bits and pieces of “D’yer Maker” here and there but grooves like hell and provides a nice four minutes to chill out to. Soon as that four minutes is up it’s right back to rock with “Here I Come”, followed by the classic dirty riffery of “Junk”. From there we get an ode to perseverance with “Wasting No More Time” and a nice bit of obligatory balladry with “The Way”, setting up for the moderately rocky closer “Barricade” with a good ol’ climactic guitar solo to close out on.
With Hellbound you get more of the same in a good way; to sum it up it’s 36 minutes of a band doing what it does best and staying true as possible to itself. Buckcherry may not be at 15 levels of popularity right now but bands like them remain important for the future of the genre. If they stop carrying the torch for rock, particularly this kind of rock, then it’ll be almost impossible to keep it going with a new band as rock’s general “now” sound gets further and further away from what the likes of Buckcherry are sticking to. All genres need to move forward musically, but it still needs to sound like that genre in some way wherever it ends up. As long as these guys stay active, there’s still some hope.