Michael Grant & The Assassins — Always The Villain
Michael Grant is a name you might not be familiar with. He was the driving force in Endeverafter. The band released two albums before disbanding. Grant then joined LA Guns and toured with them for 5 years and recorded one record with the band.
Now Grant has his own project, Michael Grant & The Assassins, where Grant sings and plays all the instruments save for drums on a few tracks. “Always The Villain” is the debut record released on Frontiers Records.
I’m already regretting not spending more time with this record before writing this. On first listen, the first thing that hits me is the aggressiveness of the first track, “Barrel Of A Gun”. It has an LA Guns type of sound to it. Off to a great start.
“Always The Villain” is up next and has a little bit more of an alternative sound to it but it’s still plenty heavy. The chorus is quite melodic. I really like this one.
A crunchy guitar riff kicks off “Killing Me Slowly”. It’s accompanied by an Iron Maiden sounding riff going into the chorus. I really like the plodding verses into the more melodic chorus. At this point, I’m already wondering a couple of things. Why didn’t I know about this band? And can this possibly keep being this good?
“Nightmares” answers that question with a resounding yes. This one is a little more moody and less aggressive. This one reminds me of something from a recent Skillet record.
“Red Light Run” is a little more melodic, bordering on a little poppy. But there’s plenty of guitar going on. I like the variety here. Reminds me of something you’d hear on the radio in the early 90s.
“Anthem Of Us” has a similar feel to the previous track. Big chorus, definitely a catchy tune. I’m so impressed by what I’m hearing. Aggressive and heavy but also melodic and catchy. So good.
“Break Me With U” is a little different than anything so far. Kind of reminds me of a cross between Prince and a 70s rock track. Interesting and quality track.
A heavy guitar riff kicks off “Death Of Me”. The chorus is a little unexpected after the heavier verse/riff. Sounds like a Sabbath verse into a Lenny Kravitz chorus. Very cool.
“Runaway” is driving from the start. I can tell in the first ten seconds I’m going to like this one and I’m not disappointed. I don’t love the pre-chorus, but overall a great track.
“Gimme Salvation” is all guitars from the start. Plenty of melody in the chorus. A no frills rocker.
The tempo gets slowed down a bit on the album closer, “Secrets”. The song builds in the verses up to the chorus. Another melodic chorus finishes out this impressive record.
Well, that was unexpected. I love when that happens. I wasn’t even sure who Michael Grant was and after one listen it’s competing with Tokyo Motor Fist for my favorite album of 2020. I can tell you I’ll be listening to this record quite a bit over the next few days.
I believe I’ve referenced LA Guns, Skillet, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Lenny Kravitz and Prince in the review. In other words, I think this record will appeal to just about any rock fan.
I’ll keep it simple — you really need to check this record out.
95 out of 100
Barrel Of A Gun *
Always The Villain *
Killing Me Slowly *
Red Light Run *
Anthem Of Us *
Break Me With U
Death Of Me
Runaway (Can You Stand The Rain)