With the almost century-long legacy that rock musicians have behind them, one could expect that little to no room remains for innovation. But at this point in rock history, we are presented with bands like The Million Reasons who manage to barge through new doors with sheer innovation and authenticity. In their debut full-length album Haven, the band effortlessly bridges the gap between the new and the old in rock. Let’s see what those 11 powerful tracks hold in store for us.
The first track “Oh, Tranquilizer!” has an abundance of snare drums and power chords that interplay with sturdy bass lines. I felt like this could be an outtake or a b-side from a Green Day album. But don’t get me wrong, with a nostalgic punk-ish arrangement comes the heavenly vocals of Mr. Taylor Brennan, who has a tremendous range with tremendous breath support and I believe that’s very rare nowadays. The second track “If Not For The Fire” struck me with a bassline that already made me feel like I’m listening to a different band – Kudos to Mr . This track feels like a marriage between the Foo Fighters and Guns N Roses. It has all the grit and heaviness that bands used to have in the 80s, but also a strong chorus with power chords very reminiscent of the 2000s alternative era. Speaking of the 80s, the third song is called “1985”, and it sounds like one of those big romantic songs people sang along to in sold-out arenas and stadiums in the good old days when rock was the best-selling genre in the world. The riffs that Ken Ugel and Mike Nichols play are catchy and very easy on the ear, which makes this track the album’s catchiest. The following track “Coup De Grâce” has awesome soaring vocals and more of that stadium 80s feel. It has a short and killer guitar solo that pumped me with so much adrenaline. The fifth track “Shine On” is the shortest album, and it sounds a lot like Whitesnake and Wasp- more 80s pleasure. It’s so refreshing to hear such traditional rock n roll tracks from Mr. Ken Ugel, especially since I recently listened to and reviewed his alternative and more progg-ish side on his other project “Wild Gravity”. The sixth track called “Alone With You” has mid-tempo verses and an explosive chorus, but its most energetic part is the explosive bridge and solo followed by the ending/outro. These guys are masters of energetic and emotional performance.
The seventh track “Ride or Die” returns to the marriage of alternative and classical that the first song of the album saw. It has a stompy beat and power chords but some melodic riffs as well. The next track “Only Human” is where the alternative elements begin taking the spotlight much more than before. I felt like I was listening to Alter Bridge in their mid-to-late-2000s galore. Shivers ran down my spine when I heard the final high note with the lyrics “Remember remember, it’s not over till its better…”. The ninth track “Pretty Ones” has another stompy beat and one of those guitar solos that make you feel like your soul is leaving your body. After a deep thought process, I believe this is my favourite track on the whole record. The tenth track is named “No North Star” and it’s a power ballad that makes great use of a string section and clean guitars to build up for a heavy climax in its bridge and final verse. The eleventh and final song “All You Can’t Afford” is a culmination of all the ideas presented in the previous tracks. One thing I have to highlight here is the distortion on the bassline that’s played before the first verse. Kudos to Mr. Jason Cillo for utilizing such diverse lines with multiple pedals/effects. The verse riff is infectiously catchy and that larger-than-life chorus that could only be described as an ethereal one put me in a mix of emotions I could not put into words. At the 3-minute mark there was a decrescendo and a short calm break with clean guitars and some slow rimshots on the drums, following this is a muffled speech and a repeating verse that put me in a state of trance until the song ended the beautiful journey that this album has been. These guys teach you how to end an album on both a literal and emotional high note.
In conclusion, this is a well-crafted record that has something for everyone from every taste. While the first half was studded with classic rock and traditional heavy metal tropes, the second half is on the more straightforward alternative side. While such a tracklist could’ve felt separated and unrelated, These guys managed to streamline all their different influences in a cool blend and gave us a coherent record where all the tracks paradoxically belong together, but each one stands out.