Tesla – ‘Shock’ – Album Review

Tesla decided to make a new album after saying the last one was…well the last one.  Thankfully, that is not the case.  Tesla’s new album is called ‘Shock’ and there has been a lot said of this new album and about how much it sounds like Def Leppard since it was produced by Phil Collen, lead guitarist of the band.

And let me tell you, they are 100% RIGHT!!  It really does!!  Mostly, it is from the backing vocals.  On a lot of the songs, the backing vocals have been done in the same way Lep does it.  In fact, all the backing singers sound exactly like Phil. Now, I am not saying sounding like Lep is a bad thing.  It is, however, a little distracting and a little detracting. 

From the opening track, “You Won’t Take Me Alive”, “Taste Like”, “I Want Everything” and “Afterlife” it is the classic Lep sound.  They aren’t bad songs at all and they do grow on you with each listen.  It is just strange.  At times I feel like I am listening to a Lep album with a new lead singer.

The album is also very soft at time.  It has several ballads (“We Can Rule The World”, “Love is a Fire” and “Forever Loving You”) and even a breezy little song called “California Love Song”.  At times you could compare this album to Def Leppard’s X (often called the “Love” album for it’s ballad heavy track list).

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It is really only the rock heavy songs that keep this album from sinking.  The best being the first single, “Shock”, despite its use of electronic drums.  It is really a modern, rock song and when it gets going, it can’t be stopped.  The rawness and raspiness edge to Jeff Keith’s vocals are the star here.

There are couple more great rock songs including “The Mission” which has a little darker edge to it and “Tied to the Tracks” which is more like the old days, less restrained than the rest of the album.  I like the last song, “Comfort Zone” as well with its heavy bass line and a nice little guitar riff (another with Lep backing vocals though).

All-in-all, it is not a bad album.  The problem is it doesn’t feel like Tesla.  The vocals are too clean and the production is too slick.  Tesla for me is more rough around the edges and can really let loose where here it seems to be constrained and boxed in to what the producer wanted.

For all of these reasons, I am giving it 2.75 out 5.00 stars.  I wanted to like it, and the songs do get better with each listen.  However,  I couldn’t get past the sound and being a hardcore Leppard fan, the similarities were ridiculous for me to get past.  If I want Lep, I will listen to Lep.  I wanted Tesla.

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14 thoughts on “Tesla – ‘Shock’ – Album Review

  1. Save That Goodness the studio track that was tacked on the back of the live Mechanical Resonance release was a decent tune that Collen had worked on with them.
    I sampled the tune ‘Shock’ when the preorder dropped on iTunes and the track flatlined with me. So for a fruit impression it wasn’t good and after reading your review even though you found some decent stuff inside I’m going to pass on this altogether..
    Those first 4 studio releases by Tesla can’t be beat and when Skeoch left out went the attitude of ROCK!

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    1. You are right, you can’t beat those first four. This was a decent effort, but it isn’t Tesla. Phil was trying to be Mutt and that just didn’t work. He forgot that this is Tesla and they are rough around the edges and raw. They are a straight ahead rock band. This isn’t that.

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  2. I stopped the first 2 songs a few seconds in.
    The 3rd one isn’t bad, but not great.
    The electronic drums suck. I love Def Leppard but trying to force another band to emulate your band is both lazy and misguided. How Tesla went along with this I have no idea. I know Phil is a respected man in music but I can’t see him ever getting hired again as a producer. Awful stuff. I have not heard the album but from what I’ve heard 2.75 seems too high.
    Jeff Keith still has a wicked voice at 60.
    Too bad he wasn’t allowed to go all out.
    I would suggest the band look up Marti Fredrickson, Bob Marlette, or GGGarth Richardson and have them engineer/produce an album. They should go the Buckcherry, Dead Daisies, The Lazys, Airbourne route. Raw and balls out rock n roll.

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    1. Jeff’s voice is awesome. It was too clean for sure on this. His rough, grittiness is what I love the most. It has more character. It will be interesting to see what Phil produces after this. Their has been a lot of backlash for the sound.

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  3. Oooft. Sounds like they got this one all wrong… and as much as I can appreciate there being some sort of criticism on the producer, it sounds like Tesla we’re trying to manoeuvre themselves into a certain space that they didn’t fit in and, well, they didn’t have the songs either.

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  4. When this came out a gave it a spin around the block. I am a huge Frank Hannon fan, he’s been one of my favorite guitar players for years. I wasn’t feeling it at all. It sounds way to much like Def and really it doesn’t sound like Tesla to me. That being said I don’t hold anything against anyone who wants to experiment this far into their career. They’ve earned it!

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  5. In my view, the album is great! It doesn’t sound like any other band than Tesla and I’ve been a fan since The Great Radio Controversy. The sound is more polished than say Simplicity. However, Jeff’s voice and phrasing on this effort sounds better than on Simplicity. I don’t think they would go anywhere creatively repeating the sound they had on Simplicity. Just because you record layers of background vocals doesn’t automatically make you a copycat band of Def Leppard. Beatles anyone? There’s a track on Psychotic Supper called Can’t Stop that uses background vocals in the chorus quite similarly.

    Second song Taste Like is influenced as much by AC/DC (Guitar intro and Mutt Lange style vocals) and Rolling Stones (chorus part, using augmented sus4, major sixth chords). I even read some comments on the Internet that the word sugar is used in this songs lyrics and therefore this particular tune would be piss-take of Poor Some Sugar On Me. Quire ridiculous statement. Bassist Brian What said in an interview recently that his attitude was fuck off to those that just said that this sounds like Def Leppard and not Tesla. I can relate to what he means. To me it seems like some maybe not so bright guys on the Internet immediately started shouting Def Leppard! And people just repeat the same meme without thinking critically about it. I listened to a few newer Leppard recordings (I’m mostly familiar with this bands catalogue up to and including Hysteria) and the sound from Shock is still different from what I have heard on those songs. Shock is definitely not a carbon copy sound of Def Leppard, to me. For example, the drums, bass and guitars are more full sounding and organic than I would find on a Def Leppard album.

    There’s a drum machine on Shock. At first I thought what the hell is this? But, it makes an interesting sound, especially listening in head phones. That intro has a real woofer like sound and draws you in as a listener. They wanted to experiment a bit in the studio and I have no problem with it. The sound and attitude of the first four studio albums will never be replicated again. Bust A Nut was released more than 20 years ago and Tommy Skeoch had to leave the band after many attempts trying to have him on. One point I can agree with is that the album may have too many softer songs, but the quality of all songs are good, maybe except for California Summer Song, which still is not bad song writing.

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    1. Thanks so much for commenting. I like when someone who disagrees with actually states their case rather going…you’re wrong…you’re an idiot. It is refreshing. You had great points. For me, knowing Phil’s music and style like I do, I couldn’t get past there was too much of him dripping throughout.

      Jeff’s voice sounds excellent, however, it was too clean. I like his rougher side a lot more like from the first four albums. All-in-all, not a bad effort, just not my liking. Glad you are digging it though. They have a right to explore new sounds and have definitely earned that right. Plus, it is great to have a band from back in the day still going at it and delivering new product!!

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