BITE THE BULLET – Black & White (2021)
Formed in the mid-80s, BITE THE BULLET released a really good album regarded as a cult classic among AOR circles of the era. After all these years, original singer / songwriter Mick Benton and drummer Graham Cowling decided to join again and the result is their upcoming second effort “Black & White“.
BITE THE BULLET hasn’t lost their class in writing stupendous songs and maintaining their clean, crystal clear sound, reflected into “Black & White” first class production & mix.
In their ’80s days, despite of being British, Bite The Bullet was influenced by the Eighties melodic style of Foreigner, Toto, and masters Mr. Mister. ”Black & White” remains faithful to these, and adds even more variation.
Their tunes are a fine mix of elaborated riffs, energetic groove, catchy refrains, sparkling synth embellishment, and roaring guitar solos, some very impressive.
All these things are focused in exceptional song melody and harmony with melodic and harmonious vocal arrangements.
“Rocks to stones” opens with an energetic riff and a crystalline keyboard arrangement providing that AOR feel. In the chorus, Mike Benton brings to mind the late Brian Howe in those slick late 80s Bad Company albums.
“Black & White” keeps rocking with a touch of elegance both in the chorus and in the fine keyboard work. Then “Falling” comes close to the sound that defined the first BTB album: a melodic and harmonic delight with an Eighties spirit.
“I’ll Go” is some kind of FM / Overland meets GTR, and if you love these bands this is a real treat. “Starlight” changes things a little, with a more Americanized sound akin Mr Mister later era. Benton’s vocals are also different, showcasing his talent to deliver something fresh.
“You never Knew” is plenty of crispy melodies, catchy choruses and sentimental harmonies, over a strong rhythm section, and again, elegant keyboards.
“The Lonely Road” slows down the tempo for a mid-paced sweet tune, where the guitar arrangements create the ideal climax and vintage keys cuts through the verses while gliding it slightly. There’s an eminently British-like 80s chorus and a melodic solo.
“Bring it On” rocks harder with racing riff, while “Under the Veil” is the “slow” song on the album, not exactly a ballad but one of the song best on the album with its in crescendo chords, smooth vocals and complete harmonies. And there’s a little surprise at the end which makes the song even better.
The cover artwork of “Black & White” takes us back to the most avant-garde covers of the 80s, using black and white with some red detail in the logo’s typography. And in some way, perfectly reflects BITE THE BULLET sound; elegant, classy, with some rocking bite, but always melodic.
An excellent comeback by these talented musicians, and hopefully, a fresh starting point for new BITE THE BULLET music in the near future.
01 – Rocks to Stones
02 – Black & White
03 – Falling
04 – I’ll Go
05 – Starlight
06 – You Never Knew
07 – The Lonely Road
08 – Dark Energy
09 – More Than This
10 – Bring It On
11 – Under the Veil
12 – Last Chance Radio
13 – Unconditional
Mick Benton – vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards
Graham Cowling – drums, percussion