Music review: Tesla - ’Shock’

With 2014’s “Simplicity,” Tesla’s last album was a solid offering of no-nonsense rock anthems with a few slower numbers added in for good measure.

Tesla’s no-frills approach of staying true to the same straightforward rock formula that served the California band so well and satisfied fans for nearly 30 years had the boys rocking as hard as they did back in the glory days of 1986’s “Mechanical Resonance” and 1989’s “The Great Radio Controversy.”

That being said, Tesla’s new release comes with a twist. The band still can rock the rafters. But with “Shock,” the band finds inspiration for the new material from Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen, who handles the producing and co-writing duties to infuse a noticeable Def Leppard vibe.

The vintage Tesla sound is still intact. Only now it’s bolstered by infectious guitar riffs, booming backing vocals and lead singer Jeff Keith delivering some convincing Joe Elliot charisma with his spirited vocal performances on various tracks.

Full disclosure, I’ve always been a huge Def Leppard fan so this album isn’t a shock (no pun intended) to me. In fact, it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite Tesla releases.

The band’s eighth studio album opens defiantly on “You Won’t Take Me Alive” with Keith standing his ground when it comes to rock ’n’ roll and daring anyone to stand in his way.

The Def Leppard influence is instantly heard on “Taste Like.” This track is from the same mold of Def Leppard’s hit “Pour Some Sugar on Me” with Keith confessing, “I’m on a sugar rush/I need the candy crush.”

As hard as the band rocks on arrangements like “The Mission,” “Tied to the Tracks” and “I Want Everything,” a slower side is shown on a number of tender ballads.

“We Can Rule the World” opens with piano before giving way to soaring orchestration, opening the door for Keith’s passionate vocals on this inspiring number about staying strong to your beliefs through actions that can have a lasting impact for generations to come.

“Love Is a Fire” and “Forever Loving You” are strong love ballads that set a romantic tone and allow listeners the opportunity to catch their breath for a few minutes.

The biggest surprise comes on “California Summer Song.” The laid-back arrangement about basking in the summer sun without a care in the world brings to mind Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long” as Keith sings, “Take me back to where I come from/Where the skies are blue and the sun is strong/Spend all day and all night long/When we drift away to this summer song.”

Tesla’s latest offering certainly isn’t a shock. Instead, it’s a welcomed shot of adrenaline mixed with softer elements of the heart that just might have some fans stepping out of their comfort zone.

Clint Rhodes is the Herald-Standard music reviewer. He can be reached at clinton43@me.com.

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