Anti-Hero - Unpretty (2 Disc CD/DVD)

Female-fronted rock is a dangerous business. Very, very occasionally it achieves a moderate degree of commercial success and longevity (see Garbage and Skunk Anansie). Every so often it garners a modicum of critical acclaim, but then fails to convert this into album sales or burns out at the exact moment that greatness beckons (see NY Loose and Smashed Gladys). More often than not though, it fails to even be recognised by the predominantly male-orientated arena, and passes the average metal-head by being completely unnoticed.

Quite right too! The electric guitar is, after all, an extension of the male reproductive organ. It is not a rocking horse, a cabbage patch doll or a wendy house!

Right dudes?

Wrong!

London (Ontario)-based Anti-Hero - alongside contempories Juliette & The Licks - are bucking this trend and carving out a new niche in commercially successful, critically acclaimed female-fronted rock.

Billed by some as "The 21st Century Answer to Nirvana" (don't panic - they're not even nearly as bad as that!), Anti-Hero undeniably have their roots in the most miserable genre the 20th century threw up. However, there is more to Anti-Hero than a bunch of 25 year-olds thrashing out the music of their youth. Drawing their influences from such varied sources as The Beatles, AC/DC, Nine Inch Nails and Slayer(!), Anti-Hero have, in 'Unpretty', recorded a great modern rock album - pure and simple. It just happens to be sung by ladies!

Originally released only in Canada, back in June 2005, this 2006 worldwide re-release comes complete with a bonus DVD, featuring band member profiles, photo gallery and the video to lead single and title track 'Unpretty'. Setting the scene for much of the album, this dark, brooding anthem to self-loathing is certainly anything but pretty. In fact you almost expect the video to end in a suicidal blood-letting as the song reaches its climax. It doesn't though. It's all very tasteful, and will undoubtedly gain the band heavy exposure on the music television channels in months to come.

Elsewhere, the album rumbles along in a typically, if somewhat predictably, miserable manner, only occasionally veering into pop territories with the positively jangly 'More Or Less'. Here you can actually envisage the arena-sized crowd bouncing as one, fists in the air and singing along to vocalist Rose Perry's every word.

In fact, Perry's vocal delivery is the only aspect of this album that doesn't quite do it for me. Velvety smooth and heavy as a ten tonne safe in equal measures and in all the right places, this is almost the perfect voice for this type of music. However, the constant interjection of additional syllables in order to fit the lyrics to the tunes actually leaves the songs a little hard on the ear due to the resultant drone.

Still, with songs as good as raucous album closer 'Two Words', it's easy to get used to a slightly unusual vocal style.

7/10

by Danzai

Visit the Anti-Hero Website