Living Colour - The Chair In The Doorway
Megaforce Records
Funk Rock/Metal
12 songs (42:00)
Release year: 2009
Living Colour, Megaforce Records
Reviewed by Goat

It's rather incredible that Funk Metal pioneers Living Colour are still going, over twenty-five years after they were formed. Some success in the eighties with the backing of Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger (who hired guitarist Vernon Reid and drummer Will Calhoun for his 1987 Primitive Cool solo album) and two Grammies in the nineties should have set them up for world domination, but the band split up in 1995 after musical differences over the direction of their fourth album. After a reformation in 2000, 2003's CollideĆøscope album was well-received but failed to chart in the US, the band are now back again with full length number five.

I did start to worry that Living Colour had modernised their sound appropriately to fit in with today's world, the opening beats of Burned Bridges especially R&B-esque, but those fears are soon assuaged as the band take a heavier turn, sounding almost like a grungy Pearl Jam. Burned Bridges actually turns out to be more of an intro track than anything else, closing on a tidal wave of guitar histrionics from Reid, before The Chair trundles into action, a slow sludgy sound enhanced with plenty of background effects - it's Decadance that we're really waiting to hear, dropping the obtuse experimentation in favour of more traditional tech-riffing, sounding like an old-school Alice In Chains. As the album continues, it's clear that signing to Megaforce has made the band take a heavier turn, as there are plenty of sludgy guitar-driven tracks here. Fortunately for all, however, the hooks are still present, as are the perfect sense of rhythm and skilful ability to write varied songs that fuelled past victories. The album never flows quite as smoothly as it should, and songs can often seem rather odd at first - the dance steps of Young Man, for instance - yet give it time and a proggy experimental drive becomes clearer.

It's that which you have to cling to, really, as anyone wanting to hear another Cult Of Personality should really know better. Living Colour mix it up wonderfully; the likes of the ominous Method, slow churning riffs backed by upbeat percussion from the ever-capable Will Calhoun, follow exactly in the band's genre-mashing spirit without approaching the catchiness of before, whilst Behind The Sun could have come straight from Vivid, such is the anthemic quality. This is only heightened on the following Bless Those (Little Annie's Prayer), a Bluesy stomper with some wonderfully heavy riffs, and even the likes of the two-minute Hard Times are well-written and packed with hooks, far from the filler that a lesser band would pad the running time with.

Although the music itself is great, especially Reid's guitar playing, it's hard not to think that a little more care and focus could have turned this from a pretty good album into a damn great one. Placing the soft That's What You Taught Me and the Hard-Rocking Out Of My Mind next to each other works on one level, but when you view the album overall it does seem to be unsure of its own mind. Given time and effort The Chair In The Doorway will prove itself to be a good album, but high expectations will be disappointed, and this album stands as an interesting yet ultimately disappointing milestone on the career of a band who could have done much better. Here's hoping it's not another six years before we're talking about them again.

Killing Songs :
Decadance, Method, Behind The Sun, Bless Those (Little Annie's Prayer), Out Of My Mind
Goat quoted 74 / 100
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