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Full Throttle Rock

Album Review: Fuel - Puppet Strings

Posted on April 7, 2014 at 10:05 PM

Fuel – Puppet Strings

Written by The Rock Man


I have on occasion spoken about my dislike for the 1990s (in a musical sense). The decade started out okay but by 1993/94 it drastically went to hell in a hand basket. I couldn’t have cared any less for the grunge movement and the other alternative was all that C&C Music Factory style crap. As the decade slowly came towards a close there were a couple of bands that caught my attention, acts such as Creed and Nickleback gave me hope that the hard rock music industry still had a pulse. Another band that got me quite excited was Fuel.

From the moment I heard their 1998 album Sunburn I was hooked. Further releases like Something Like Human and Natural Selection would solidify my love for the band but by the time the next album Angels & Devils was released in 2007, the band had lost original singer Brett Scallions. Since that time the band has been quiet in terms of studio albums, until now with the release of their fifth recording Puppet Strings.

A lot has changed over the past several years, for starters the band sees Brett Scallions return as the frontman but with that we see the departure of original guitarist/songwriter/founder Carl Bell and bassist Jeff Abercrombie. Replacing them is Andy Anderson on lead guitar and Brad Stewart on bass while newly recruited Shannon Boone (Puddle Of Mudd) rounds out the quartet on drums. Yet while the line up may have changed the spirit and passion of the band has remained.

The opening track is Yeah!. This was available as a free download and was seen by the band as a “teaser” rather than a first single. The track announces the bands return with its punchy drum groove and guitar swagger, this is then followed by the official first single Soul To Preach To. This is an awesome track with its banjo driven verses then launching into a very heavy guitar driven chorus, Hey Mama draws heavily on that southern rock slide guitar style which is something different for Fuel.

The album really comes into its own over the course of the next several tracks beginning with Time For Me To Stop which very easily brings me back to the Something Like Human days. For some reason which I can’t explain Fuel have always had the power to give me goosebumps whenever they perform a ballad and they do it again on Wander, these are the types of track where Scallions vocals really shine. Cold Summer and I Can See The Sun are classic Fuel and worth the price of the CD alone. The title track Puppet Strings has a distorted, gritty Nashville flavour about it, but this ain’t no country song. Headache is a solid rocker that pulls no punches with its flat out intro and heavy chorus. The soloing is quite impressive too. The album comes to a conclusion with What We Can Never Have which begins as an acoustic track before launching into a strong solid mid-tempo ballad. The acoustic parts for some reason brought to me thoughts of Bob Dylan but by the mid way point its Fuel all the way.

It has been seven long years since the last Fuel record and eleven years since Scallions sang on one, so for me this is a very impressive first effort. The return of Fuel with Brett Scallions at the helm is like running into an old childhood buddy you haven’t seen in years. Welcome back my dear friend.


Categories: Album Reviews

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