POLUTION – Beyond Control

Five years after Polution’s ‘Overheated’, the four members of the Betschart family (augmented by Pascal Gwerder on vocals) returned in 2012 with a second selection of old school hard rock tunes, bringing toughness and melodies together in a way which ought to please fans of Euro hard rock.

After a brief acoustic based intro, ‘Fire’ starts relatively strongly, featuring some great some great twin lead guitar work.  From a song writing perspective, there’s not much which makes Polution stand out on first listen, but that riff combined with a reasonable chorus results in something solid enough.  ‘Live Until You Die’ fares better, going all out on a stomping three chord rocker, blending the best elements of early 80s AC/DC and the Euro rock of Gotthard.  As the kind of song that works best at high volume, its over-riding simplicity makes it a winner,  Also, it must be said, this tune features a lovely guitar solo which, although brief, features a couple of nice touches.   The high energy approach on this number is also much better suited to Gwerder’s ragged vocal style.  From this point, if you’re still listening, ‘Beyond Control’ has a few enjoyable tunes to offer, alongside a couple which were never destined for greatness.

The best of the bunch, ‘Flying’, aims for that radio hit.  During the slower verses, the clean toned guitar riffs lend a gentle atmosphere before breaking into a crunchy, full electric chorus.  There’s a hint of Nickelback’s more famous radio staples and the band sound great on the whole, although Pascal Gwerder’s heavily accented voice, once again, doesn’t always sound as smooth as some.  Still, focusing on the music, this is a standout track, made even better by a sweeping guitar solo.  ‘Follow Me’ opens with another simple riff – again bringing in those twin lead elements – before crashing into a meaty mid paced riff driven by some pumping bass.  The old-school style dressed in a slightly 90s production sound highlights the toughness in the band’s arrangement. It’s on slightly slower, slightly meater tracks such as this where Polution really hit their mark and overall, it’s certainly an enjoyable track. 

Sadly, on the other side of the musical coin ‘Bite Me’ offers a riff that sounds like a Metallica outing circa 1991 (played in a lacklustre way) coupled with required amounts of chug.  Since Polution are capable of great guitar melodies, this level of (fake) angst definitely sounds like a band trying way too hard; luckily the harmony vocals on the chorus bring a sense of melodic balance, but it’s not quite enough to stop ‘Bite Me’ being a bit of a stinker.Throughout the intro of ‘The Band’, Andreas Betschart uses his bass as a lead instrument, a technique which brings a great sound. Before too long the guitars take a predictable frontline, resulting in another 80s inspired piece of hard rock, heavy on the twin guitar motifs.  It’s all decent enough rock fare which, when delivered by their chosen amount of gusto, makes it another good showcase for this Swiss band’s talents.

While it’s unlikely this release is top of your list of releases to check out – the slightly embarrassing ‘Bite Me’ aside – the tunes featured on this album are of a reasonable to good standard, and occasionally even better.  While not all the songs are great, it’s hard to argue with Polution’s level of enthusiasm.  ‘Beyond Control’ may not claim to be edgy, but as albums go, it is mostly well constructed and well played.  Like the second release from Maltese rockers Fire, it’s not going to change the world, but it is likely going to provide a little old-school listening enjoyment for hard rock fans over a certain age.