When former superbike champion James Toseland retired from racing, few expected him to turn back to his first love of music. Now releasing their second album, Cradle The Rage, Toseland appear much more comfortable creatively. Their debut Renegade proved that James was far more than a sportsman, but it's this album that really proves his mettle as a rock star in the making.
The album begins with a revving bass line as thunderous as one of the superbikes the champ was famous for riding. Too Close To Call sets the pace for a furious ride from the five piece band with all the hallmarks of a great rock track. With the exception of a few songs which are reminiscent of the bands earlier work, Cradle The Rage has taken their sound up a gear, it is as if co-writer and producer Toby Jepson has pulled the rug from under James' feet and thrown him straight out of his previous comfort zone. The result is a heavier, grittier sound and a move toward a bonafide hard rock album. Jepson has certainly brought out the best in the band this time around. He's utilized the duel guitar sound placing guitar God (and James' bro in law) Zurab Melua right in the middle of this high octane hurricane. James' vocals are also pushed further with this album, look at the terrific Fingers Burned and the torchlight anthem, We'll Stop At Nothing, allowing him to really grow as a performer and singer. Nothin' You Can Do About It has an American rock swagger to it and the title track is a cathartic vilification of all the shit that brings us down and ends the album on the frenzied high that we opened with.
There are some tasty and subtle string arrangements on the album too, which create both a dynamic depth and hint at a prog metal influence.
Never Love Another is an impassioned rock ballad, which has a memorable chorus and enjoys playing with time signatures and tempo, giving their music a more sophisticated edge when compared to your average rock track.
Apart from the face value tracks like Too Close To Call and Puppet On A String, it's a bit of a slow burner but it has so much more going for it than just a catchy chorus and a great hook. It will take a couple of listens to really harness the lyrical and musical elements of the album and really 'get into' the evolution of the band's sound, but you will certainly be reeled in.
With two solid albums now behind him, there's no question that James Toseland has successfully cemented his transition from bike rider to rocker. With the first album Jepson and the band were finding their feet, but Cradle The Rage has steered them towards a sound and style that matches the belting tenor vocals of James and the heavy metal sensibilities of the rest of the band.