“Every once in a while, we’ll harness some kind of magic, and I think we did on this one,” Gary Cherone, frontman of Extreme, said of their new single Other Side Of The Rainbow recently. After a fifteen-year gap between their last album, Saudades de Rock, what is very clear is that that sentiment can apply right across their new album, Six.
EXTREME – SIX (EARMUSIC)
Release Date: 9 June 2023
Words: Robert Adams
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you should be familiar with album opener Rise. That’s the song with THAT solo from Nuno Bettencourt that left the world with its collective jaw hanging open in wonder.
Extreme fans already know what Bettencourt is capable of, but even they were blown away by that solo. Obviously, the guitar solo is just the icing on the cake on what is a cracking up-tempo rocker. “When Eddie Van Halen passed, it really hit me,” Nuno said. “I’m not going to be the one who will take the throne, but I felt some responsibility to keep guitar playing alive. So, you hear a lot of fire on the record.”
#Rebel is more of the same but different. You know what I mean? Gary Cherone’s vocals have never sounded better than they do throughout all of Six, and he hits a glorious scream at the end of #Rebel. Banshee has a chunky riff to open, which leads to a more usual Extreme style verse and chorus.
Recent single Other Side Of The Rainbow slows things down with an acoustic-led singalong with stunning harmony vocals from Cherone, Bettencourt and Extreme’s secret weapon, Pat Badger. “It’s a universal theme,” Cheronne says. “It’s about restoring someone’s faith in love. It’s the perfect marriage of lyrics and melody.” Obviously, there’s another stunning Bettencourt guitar solo that leaves us with another huge grin on our faces.
Small Town Beautiful is a gorgeous acoustic ballad with Cherone and Bettencourt swapping vocal duties on the verses, and it just leaves you swaying like a cornfield in a summer breeze.
The Mask starts with a pounding drum beat that will bring to mind Suzi Quatro’s Devil Gate Drive to listeners of a certain age. A deep southern drawl vocal from Nuno kicks things off, and Cherone takes over the chorus.
Thicker Than Blood is a guitar-driven funk monster with a sneaky keyboard line just before yet another wonderful clean guitar solo. Extreme’s upcoming tour with Living Colour as special guests is billed as the Thicker Than Blood tour, and the song has more than a hint of Living Colour’s style in the mix.
Save Me has another chunky riff and yet another stunning vocal performance from Cherone. 6 shows that Gary’s pipes certainly haven’t diminished with the passing years. This is, without doubt, his finest vocal performance out of all of Extreme’s catalogue.
Hurricane could easily be the younger cousin of Extreme’s mega-hit More Than Words. Cherone and Bettencourt provide almost Everly Brothers vocal harmonies throughout, and it’s a beautiful ballad. X Out is a track that could’ve easily been on Extreme’s III Sides To Every Story album. It has a similar feel to that era of Extreme.
Beautiful Girls is Six’s left turn track. It’s a Caribbean ska-infused acoustic pop song with a nailed-on singalong chorus, and if you aren’t moving to this one, you’re probably dead.
Six closes out with another Extreme singalong. Here’s To The Losers is an anthem for everyone who tries their hardest but just falls short. There’s a false ending that leads to a gang vocal reprise of the chorus. It’s a fantastic ending to what is the strongest album Extreme has released since 1990s Pornograffitti.
“Whatever you think an Extreme album is after two or even three songs, it’s not,” says Nuno. “That goes for every record we’ve ever done. True Extreme fans know to ‘expect the unexpected.’ I feel like we need a good old-school rock album. Six is definitely modern, but you can put on headphones and go on a journey from top-to-bottom. It’s like Extreme 2.0.”
2008s Saudades de Rock was a decent album, but Six just blows it out of the water. The drumming of Kevin Figueiredo and Pat Badger’s thumping bass is an awesome unit that underpins Bettencourt’s insane fretwork and Cherone’s career-best vocal performance, which lifts 6 into a must-have album.
Extreme are on tour later this year. Tickets are available from here