• Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

HEROES AND MONSTERS album review

ByTaylor T Carlson

Feb 1, 2023

The debut album from Heroes and Monsters was released on Frontiers Music on January 20, 2023.

It seems like Frontiers Music has become a breeding ground for manufactured supergroups over the past decade or so, uniting some of the most talented names in the rock world. In a day and age when artists find themselves in countless projects, not all of these bands become long-term projects or any artist’s respective “main” band.

That said, I’ll always listen because the music they make together is just so damn good.

The latest of these supergroups is called Heroes and Monsters, and this trio unites three pretty damn impressive musicians:

-Todd Kerns on bass and vocals. Kerns is best known these days as the bass player for Slash, the famed Guns N Roses guitarist. Kerns was also previously known in Canada for his band Age of Electric (with whom he has had sporadic reunions), and also performs in the band Toque, celebrating the best in Canadian rock and roll. I first saw Kerns perform when he was playing with a Las Vegas-based supergroup called Sin City Sinners over a decade ago, and instantly knew this guy had an unreal amount of talent. That’s why I’ll listen to anything he does, never walking away disappointed.

-Stephan Birnbaum, better known as Stef Burns, on guitar. When it comes to guitarists, this guy has one of the most diverse and interesting resumes of anyone. How many people can say they’ve played with Alice Cooper, Y&T, and Huey Lewis? It’s an eclectic mix of rock bands, all of which require something different musically, but he’s always up for the task at hand. I first saw Huey Lewis and the News back in 2002, and while there were eight or nine musicians on that stage, it was Mr. Burns, who had replaced founding member Chris Hayes, who most wowed me with his impressive guitar solos.

-Will Hunt on drums. Hunt has been a member of Evanescence since 2007, but his resume also includes stints with a wide variety of other rock bands. While I admit Hunt is the musician I’m the least familiar with in this trio, his story is no less impressive than the other two artists. He’s certainly one of the most reliable drummers in the business today, managing to impress no matter who he’s playing with.

I never quite know what to expect when it comes to these Frontiers supergroups, but that certainly doesn’t stop me from listening to them. Even the band in question don’t always last or may only give us an album or two, the work that comes from this stable is almost always superb. How does this first (and hopefully not only) release from Heroes and Monsters measure up?

What we get here is a short but sweet package of ten tracks; the album clocks in at just under 40 minutes. Despite that, the group manages to serve up a pretty diverse platter of rock rocks that runs the gamut from the hard and heavy to the more melodic. Opening cut “Locked and Loaded” would’ve been right at home on a 90s alternative rock album. “Raw Power” nice fusion of hard rock and power pop we’ve come to expect from Mr. Kerns; this wouldn’t have been out of place on one of his releases with Sin City Sinners. Tracks like “Angels Never Sleep,” “And You’ll Remain,” and “Don’t Tell Me I’m Wrong” slow things down but don’t feel out of place; at no point do these feel like obligatory ballads or slow songs. The solo in “Set Me Free” gives Mr. Burns a chance to cut loose with his axeman skills, and is never boring. No track on the album is longer than four-and-a-half minutes, though I truly believe these guys could’ve tried their hand at a lengthy rock epic and pulled it off. Oh, well. Let’s hope for one of those on the sophomore release.

Kerns, Burns, and Hunt bring audiences musical cold on the first (and again, hopefully not only) release from Heroes and Monsters. This is only the first album I’ve reviewed in 2023, but I think these guys already have a pretty good shot at cracking my eventual Best of the Year list. Very highly recommended!

By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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