Tesla was always one of those rock bands that embraced the stadium sound but shunned the Spinal Tap image that became synonymous with the genre in the late 80s. For a group that have sold 15 million records it's hard to believe that Shock is only their eighth studio album – perhaps their six-year hiatus and grunge had something to do with that. Still, they were a band that went against the grain in melodic rock, so it's a little surprising that Shock sounds suspiciously like Mutt Lange had been over the mixing deck. But when you factor in Def Leppard's Phil Collen has co-writing and production credits it suddenly all makes sense: this is what a solid all American rock band sound like when they take a cue from a salt of the earth English institution. Collen has syphoned off everything Mutt Lange has taught him, from song structure, middle eights, right down to the swelling choruses. If Tesla had released this album in 1988, it would have stormed the charts. Now it's an example of how to craft full bloodied rock anthems by following a perfect formula that worked for Bryan Adams, AC/DC and Shania Twain.
Even with its redolence on stadium anthems Taste Like, and You Won't Take Me Alive, the title track offers adrenaline charged sound for which the Californian band are known. Jeff Keith sounds entirely in command of the vocals, and the album contains some of his most dynamic performances. Tesla has always had a penchant for belting out a good ballad and Shock has several slower number to chose, three of which are sandwiched together in the middle. The Mission returns the album to chugging riffs and brazen rock melodies that's an example of the band at their best. Afterlife's big chorus and mandolin accompaniment remind us of Tesla's glory days. The final track, the ironically named, Comfort Zone, could be an allegorical tale of a band who stepped out of their own comfort zone and ended up sounding too much like some of the giants of rock. There's some good material here, but its production makes its magnetic flux more Def Leppard than Tesla.
Groupie rating 3/5