While a career in music, in general, seems to be predicated on a fickle game of risk and reward, for my money no genre has it worse than Hard Rock (Metal, Punk or otherwise). You push too far into a musical extreme and you’re considered a niche product at best. Streamline the sound and introduce a melody, and pockets of fans are deriding you as sellouts before the first check is cleared. Dubai’s Jay Wud attempts to control the chaos down the middle with their new release, Transitions (self-released).
The risk and reward scenario plays into Transitions in more ways than one. Want to talk about risk? Jay Wud took a path less traveled and crowdfunded $30,000 to finance this third LP. What does $30,000 get them? A very polished album helmed by Howard Benson, a man known for his work with Seether, My Chemical Romance and countless mainstream acts.
Does this mean Transitions will garner Billboard success? I don’t know, but Jay Wud are throwing everything and the kitchen sink into the influences. You get some really neat metal moments on ‘Shine Your Light’ with its riffs moving at a rapid clip and the incessant soloing of instrumental banger ‘Deception.’ But just when you’re about to accept them as a stout metal foursome, in comes ‘Evil in Me’ with its post-grunge structure and ‘Low’ which is more in tow with Three Days Grace.
This willingness to try it all does not translate terribly well on ‘Empire’ which suffers when the musicianship has to take a back seat to verses that overstay their welcome. However, the overly acoustic and moody ‘Prisoner’ goes above and beyond the call of duty with its soaring vocals and ringing guitar solos. ‘Killing My Own’ takes a while to get to its groove metal wiring, but it’s worth the wait.
The jury is still out on if Jay Wud will hit the mark on this side of the planet, but we now know that for better or worse, they’re going for it.