What happened to the fun of playing rock music, especially when it comes from the sheer power of heavy rock? COLD, which returns with its fourth album after several lineup changes and a label switch, is comprised of talented and solid players, and frontman Scooter Ward can sing and write some frequently catchy melodies. But like a number of other heavy bands that emerged in the post-grunge era, the band doesn't generate any excitement with its playing or a lot of its material.
I'm not implying that heavy music should be upbeat or positive; there's no doubt that much of the music deals with negative emotions and/or personal and social ills. But even the bleaker-than-bleak ALICE IN CHAINS brought a fire to their studio performances and a palpable zest for what they were playing. In this case, however, COLD doesn't particularly sound like they're enjoying what they're doing.
Part of the problem may be the sequencing of the record, as well as the lack of diversity in the material that's sequenced together. After a somewhat promising opening with "Back Home", the listener is subjected to five slow-paced, droning, downbeat songs in a row, including current single "Happens All The Time". There's simply not enough variation between these songs, their tone or their arrangements to differentiate them from each other, and the results drag the album into a hole from which it struggles to recover.
The album does rebound somewhat with later tracks like "When Heaven's Not Far Away" and "God's Song", and it's quite clear throughout that Ward is not afraid to bare his soul through his music. The performances from the band's realigned lineup (featuring returning guitarist Matt Loughran and relatively new axeman Mike Booth) are solid as well. If a large portion of the album wasn't a repetitive downer, there are still many signs of the talent that these Florida hard rockers possess. But instead of a different kind of pain, COLD offers too much of the same kind to really make this comeback enjoyable.