Hailing from Meadowlands, New Jersey, the band AUG’s second album, Be Careful What You Wish For… brings together sounds reminiscent of Guns N’ Roses, Ozzy Osbourne, AC/DC, and Kiss. AUG – the name of which reminds me of a Viking war cry – is a hard rock group with “a metal edge” made up of four veterans of the New York and New Jersey music scene: AUG (lead vocals and guitar), Russ Latamer (drums and percussion), Rich Tanis (bass and vocals), and Tommy Shauger (lead guitars and vocals).
Be Careful What You Wish For… follows 2010 debut album 20 Years in Hell, which received critical acclaim. Although hard driving, this new album is also quite melodic, as the band takes their music from a basement project to an LP recorded at the world famous House of Loud in Saddle Brook, New Jersey and mastered at Clearcut Recording in Garfield, NJ.
The nine songs are strong both melodically, supported by skillful guitar and drum skills, and lyrically, with thoughts on the relationships, lifestyle choices, and moving towards something better. The listener’s attention is captured from the first note of the title track, which is the album’s opening song. “Be Careful What You Wish For…” clearly reflects elements of classic hard rock guitar and drums that might bring about some feelings of nostalgia. The vocals are laden with emotion that complement the lyrics well. The song talks about how a relationship can make us see what love is really about. And as many know, the reality of love can be quite different from our imaginings. The consequences can be empowering as they can be devastating; in this song, it ends up that some people previously believed to be a good influence end up being quite the contrary. The same elements of classic hard rock continue in “Little Green Fairy” and most of the songs in the album.
Featuring a great drum intro and guitar solos, “The Devil’s Rejects” is a rock ballad with good change of pace within the song. But “Light of Day” completely changes the sound of the album up to then. Laid-back guitar, a drum-driven introduction, and a couple of drum solos frame an emotional request for acceptance from the person the singer is in a relationship with, asking to accept who he is without the expectation of change.
The return to hard rock guitar and drums in “Coming Home” is a little jarring at first before settling into the song most reminiscent of Guns N’ Roses. It is quite apt that this song is about returning to the warm and familiar comfort of home. The pulsating sounds of “Forever/Goodbye” is reminiscent of Scorpions, and “All I Can Be” features one of the best guitar solos on the album
The last song is the one that got me intrigued in the first place. After all, why and, more importantly, how would a hard rock band cover the song “Africa” by Toto? Impressively well, it seems. AUG manages to both stick to the spirit of the original song while giving it an edgy, heavier feel that captures the spirit of the genre.
Although the more polished feel of this album is unsettling at times, AUG manages to keep the spirit of 1980s hard rock. The insane lightning-quick guitar solos that use a mind-numbing number of notes spanning several octaves in a matter of seconds, heavy guitar riffs, and harmonized high-pitched vocals, manage to balance out the sometimes slick production that strips the necessary rawness from a hard rock album.
This year is a busy one for AUG, who are touring coast to coast and in the United Kingdom in support of the new album. More information about the band can be found on their website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.