10 Modern-Day Glam Metal Comeback Albums
By Andrew Daly
They say time heals all wounds. And by the looks of it, especially regarding glam metal, that old adage is proving true.
Indeed, with the massive influx of new and oh-so-tasty glam metal surging through the pipeline of new music, coming of age in the ’80s is no longer the key to experiencing the sensation. Bands like Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, Spread Eagle, Heavens Edge, and soon, Dokken are releasing music at a ferocious clip.
The reasons for the “hair metal revival” are many and probably up for debate. But for the fans, at least, none of that matters. Instead, all those who crave the pouty-lipped excess of the ’80s need to do is sit back, listen, and enjoy the spectacle. But that’s not all! Not only are your favorite glam icons unleashing new music—and have been for the better part of 20 years—but a great of it is as good, or dare we say, better than what you remember.
And so, it’s with that in mind that Classic Rock History is taking readers on a journey out of the ’80s and into the resurgent times we find ourselves in today, running through ten modern-day glam metal comeback albums. In no particular order….
# 10 – Good to Be Bad – by Whitesnake (2008)
At the time of Good to Be Bad’s 2008 release, the mighty ‘Snake had been dormant as a studio back for over a decade, with 1997’s Restless Heat being their most recent previous release to that point. For a moment, it seemed like the still raspy-voiced and ever-vibrant David Coverdale had settled in as a legacy act, content to play the hits, not that anyone could blame given the massive concert turnout he was looking at around that time.
If not for Coverdale’s close relationship with guitarist Doug Aldrich, who could easily be likened to a modern-day John Sykes, Good to Be Bad might not have come to be. But thankfully, it did come to be, and cuts like “Lay Down Your Love,” “Summer Rain,” and “All for Love” showed that Coverdale was not only still in fighting form but also capable of matching his ’80s output pound for pound.
# 9 – Saints of Los Angeles by Mötley Crüe (2008)
We’ll probably never know just how much guitar DJ Ashba—or how little Mick Mars—played on 2008’s Saints of Los Angeles. But no matter, because regardless of who handed six-string duties, Saints of Los Angeles clocked in as Mötley Crüe most inspired—and most Mötley-sounding—record since 1989’s Dr. Feelgood.
Filled with Vince Neil’s sneering hooks, Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee’s gang vocals, and a generally sleazy vibe, songs like “Saints of Los Angeles,” “White Trash Circus,” and the unfortunately titled but still excellent “Mutherfu*ker of the Year” proved to the world that, despite careening off-the-beaten path with albums like Generation Swine (1997), and New Tattoo (2000), Mötley Crüe could still bring the heat when pushed to do so.
# 8 – Hell Yeah! By Black ‘N Blue (2011)
It’s not often talked about, but one of the better songwriting partnerships within the ’80s glam scene was the duo of vocalist Jaime St. James and guitarist Tommy Thayer. It’s sad that Black’ N Blue never got its due, and sadly, 2011’s Hell Yeah! continued that trend, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look back and maybe flip the script. And yes, Thayer, who was/is busy dominating stages worldwide with Kiss, was not a part of this record.
The good news is that Shawn Sonnenschein, a capable player in his own right, did his best to make listeners forget about Thayer. As for the rest of Black ‘N Blue, along with St. James, the classic lineup of Jeff ‘Woop’ Warner (guitars), Patrick Young (bass), and Pete Holmes (drums) made for a strong album featuring heavy hitters like “Monkey,” “Fools Bleed,” and “So Long.” Black ‘N Blue hasn’t saddled up for new music since, and that won’t happen. As per St. James, unless Tommy Thayer is involved, there will be no new Black ‘N Blue music.
# 7 – A Different Kind of Truth by Van Halen (2012)
Yes, 2012’s A Different Kind of Truth is mainly comprised of songs dating back to the late-70s and early-80s. But guess what? A Different Kind of Truth is entirely representative of Van Halen’s legacy, meaning that while it’s not going to topple Women and Children First (1980) or 1984 (1984) off their perches, it’s not far off. Plus, A Different Kind of Truth was Van Halen’s first record since 1998’s Gary Cherone-fronted Van Halen III, and the band’s first with David Lee Roth since the aforementioned 1984.
Honestly, A Different Kind of Truth had no business happening; most assumed as much. But it did happen, and the tour that followed was a glorious spectacle. Old demos, or not, “Tattoo,” ‘She’s the Woman,” and “Big River” would nicely feature on the next Van Halen greatest hits offering. The only real issue with A Different Kind of Truth is that bassist Michael Anthony wasn’t part of it. But Eddie’s son, Wolfgang Van Halen—who was only 21—did an outstanding job. We hate that A Different Kind of Truth was the band’s last, not because it wasn’t great, but because Van Halen seemed to have a lot left in the tank.
# 6 – Rock Your Face Off by Kix (2014)
Back in 2014, fans were surprised and elated to find that Kix, who hadn’t released a record since 1995’s Show Business, dropped an album in the form of Rock Your Face Off. While Show Business was a sadly forgotten classic buried beneath a mountain of grunge and nu-metal, thankfully, Rock Your Face Off remedied that issue, debuting at No. 48 on the Billboard Top 200 and No. 1 on the Amazon Rock charts, staying there for four weeks. Not too shabby for a band considered dead and buried, eh?
Rock Your Face Off was so good, in fact, that, looking back, it’s shocking that Steve Whiteman and company haven’t moved to follow it up. But the unfortunate reality is that, despite the excellence of tracks like “Dirty Girls,” “Mean Miss Adventure,” and “Love Me with Your Top Down,” it’s damn hard for old-school bands like Kix to make money via new music, leaving Kix as a touring entity, albeit one that’s on the precipice of retirement come Fall 2023.
# 5 – The Missing Piece by L.A. Guns (2017)
At the time of the aptly titled The Missing Piece’s 2017 release, Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns hadn’t appeared on an album together since 2002’s Waking the Dead. Given their chemistry and the deluge of outstanding rock music that’s flooded since, that’s bizarre to say. And so, if you had forgotten about the magic that Guns brought to his namesake band or Lewis’s oh-so-perfect, whip-smart vibe, one listen to The Missing Piece saw to it that you’d never forget again.
Filled with classic Phils Lewis-penned lyrics, which pair perfectly with Tracii Guns’ wailing riffage, The Missing Piece is a stone-cold heavyweight that joyously holds the title of “modern-day classic.” Soon-to-be-iconic tracks like “Speed,” “Christine,” and “Baby Gotta Fever” have the hallmarks of what made L.A. Guns Sunset Strip darlings in the late-80s. And in the years since, Lewis, Guns, and their cohorts have done nothing to dispel that notion.
# 4 – Born to Fly by Jetboy (2019)
Jetboy’s 2019 comeback record, Born to Fly, kicks off with a statement of intent: to scream its way into the listener’s earholes, creating a sensation akin to sensory overload via scorching riffs, screeching vocals, and good-time tracks. Jetboy always was, and still is, underrated, and that probably won’t ever change. But if you’ve taken the journey through low-key classics like Feel the Shake (1988) and Damned Nation (1990), you’ll find that in Born to Fly, all the in-your-face accents that made Jetboy exceptional remain intact.
What also remains is Mickey Finn, whose vocal approach and overall vibe and aesthetic still lean more toward punk rock than hair metal. But it somehow, as it always has, works, and songs like “Beating the Odds,” “Born to Fly,” and “Brokenhearted Daydream” thrust you back in time with ease. Things have never been easy for Jetboy, and to be fair, they still aren’t. And so, if Born to Fly is the band’s final album, Jetboy went out on a hell of a high note.
# 3 – Subway to the Stars by Spread Eagle (2019)
The whole underrated band making a comeback record for the age’s thing seems to be more and more common in the age of the supposed “hair metal revival.” Regardless of the reasons, there’s no denying that many bands who failed to hit as they should have during the genre’s height are now coming in hot and having success that sadly once eluded them. A perfect example of such is NYC street metal warriors Spread Eagle and their 2019 monster of a record Subway to the Stars.
Within seconds, a few things are clear: Ray West can still scream with guttural emotion reserved for a brave few. And the chugging riffs, searing solos, and melodic basslines that were linchpins of Spread Eagle remain via newcomer Ziv Shalev and founding member Rob De Luca. Rob’s cousin, Rik, rounds things out with some thunderous drums, and in no time, via songs like “Subway to the Stars,” “Sound of Speed,” and “Gutter Rhymes for Valentines,” you’re transported back. Since 2019, Spread Eagle continues to spread its mighty wings, and the word is that a new album is coming soon.
# 2 – Diamond Star Halos by Def Leppard (2022)
2015’s Def Leppard divided fans and critics, with many feeling the mighty Lep mailed it in. Sure, the album was “Def Lepard-sounding,” but something was missing. Not that Def Leppard needed to worry, given their never-ending ability to pack stadiums. Why worry about it, right? Wrong. Apparently, Joe Elliott and company heard the calls, and in 2022, Def Leppard released Diamond Star Halos, which sounded like the band members had entered a time machine back to the ’80s.
Diamond Star Halos’ opening track, “Take What You Want,” shows that the British glam metal icons meant business. And songs like “Kick” and “Fire It Up” only turned the heat of this glorious nuclear assault to ten. What’s more, anyone who has seen the band recently can confirm that for the first time in a long time, Def Leppard’s new music isn’t a signal for a bathroom break. Start to finish, new or old, the music of Def Leppard—especially the Diamond Star Halos material—is must-listen stuff.
# 1 – Get It Right by Heavens Edge (2023)
With their debut record, Heavens Edge, coming out in 1990, Heavens Edge didn’t hit the scene too late. Moreover, with blonde-haired, big-voiced frontman Mark Evans and shredding virtuoso guitarist Reggie Wu on hand, it’s perplexing that the Philly rockers didn’t hit it big. We may never know why Heavens Edge didn’t hit back in ’90, but the good news is that the band is back. And by the looks of 2023’s Get It Right, they’re more vital than ever.
Songs like “Had Enough,” “Gone Gone Gone,” and “What Could’ve Been” show that as songwriting partners, as well as performers and instrumentalists, Evans and Wu still have what it takes. Like other East Coast glam bands, Heavens Edge has often been relegated, but the revival that glam is experiencing among younger people has given them the voice they were robbed of in what should have been their heyday. If any band deserves a second chance to “get it right,” to be sure, it’s Heavens Edge.
10 Modern-Day Glam Metal Comeback Albums article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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