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TNA - Branded 2004 Kivel Records - Reviewed by: EC

Track Listing
1. Society
2. Lies Guns And Violence
3. Do You Remember
4. Walk Before You Crawl
5. Rain
6. Nine Lives Of Innocence
7. Feel It
8. Eva's Song
9. The Sound
10. Scream
11. Kill Your Idols
Man, what a great rock record! TNA (The Noise Addiction) play melodic, AOR friendly hard rock in the same vein as Lillian Axe and Jaded Heart, with a little less heaviness, but what they lack in the heavy department they more than make up for with strong songwriting, catch hooks, and soaring melody. TNA are the real deal, and prove it on their second full length album, "Branded", just released on Kivel Records.

For the longest time I have been focusing my metal purchase money on the newly revamped hard rock scene, enjoying wonderful debuts from talented acts like Vicious Mary, Wycked Synn, Wicked Sensation, and terrific new releases from seasoned veterans like Pink Cream 69, Shakra, and Victory. NEH Records (www.nehrecords.com) had the new album from TNA listed on their site, so I thought I would take a shot at it. I'm really glad I did, as TNA offers up the same great hard rock attitude of the above bands, but takes the music in a slightly more "light hearted" direction, kind of like a modern day Boston.

Sometimes even the most hardcore metal fans need a little light hearted touch. Lets face it, black and death metal fans have Opeth. Power metal fans have Doro and Nightwish. Prog fans have Dream Theater and Geoff Tate solo albums (haha!), so why not give the hard rock fans a little variety in the softer light? TNA provide that light, a shining beacon from the heavens that is a much needed spotlight for this grizzled metal veteran.

"Branded" marks the band's second release, a follow-up to the critically acclaimed debut "Finger On The Trigger". This new album is billed as a more modern approach to 80s hard rock. I can see that point of view very clearly, as TNA move late-70s and mid-80s hard rock into the new century, with moving, powerful rock statements like the Lillian Axe modeled "Lies, Guns, & Violence" and the Van Halen like string work of "Walk Before You Crawl", with both tracks incorporating a wonderful sense of 80s nostalgia, but adding to that a modern flare that doesn't seem off balance at all. I really like the variation that TNA bring to this album.

Tracks like "Feel It" and "Do You Remember" bring old fashioned rock and roll into the modern playing fields, almost sounding like early Candlebox meets Jaded Heart, a combination that really suits the fine, smooth voice of frontman Mike McManamon, a voice that just simply soars with melody and range, even bringing the perfect amount of stripped down blues to down and dirty tracks like "Scream". My favorite cuts here are "The Sound", with its "thunder & lightning" ode to Thin Lizzy, and the innovative rock & sock bite of "Kill Your Idols".

TNA prove they are a fine leader for this type of genre, which at this point I don't believe has a title. Think of the really commercial aspects of Lillian Axe and Boston, with the modern touches of Creed and Papa Roach (minus the rap-core and the Seattle grunge garbage). This type of album reminds me of the first Sick Speed demo, or even the original takes by spoof metal act Fozzy. This is really innovative stuff and at this point there really isn't anyone out there doing this. This type of album is what Lillian Axe made famous in the 90s, when nobody was playing melodic hard rockk, instead focusing all efforts and attention on poppy, big haired acts like Poison and Extreme. Lillian Axe never made it on the success radar, but lets hope the same won't be said for TNA. They deserve so much more.

--EC 04.21.04
About this Writer:
Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has served as senior editor for MaximumMetal.com for nearly 10 years and is the author of the heavy metal book series--Denim & Letters. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia.

Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



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BrandedTNA
2004
Eric Compton4/21/2004


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