James Durbin has made quite the name for himself since rising to stardom on American Idol in 2011. He finished fourth on the TV karaoke contest that year but went on to become just as successful as that year’s winner, country music crooner Scotty McCreery. He released three solo albums between 2011 and 2016, recorded two with famed rock band Quiet Riot in 2018 and 2019, and has even released one album with a band bearing his name in 2020. Early this month, he padded his resume even more with the release of Coming Home, his new project with members of Stryper and Riot V. The group released the album July 8 under the moniker of Cleanbreak through Frontiers Music s.l.r. The 12-song record is a presentation that will find appeal among a wide range of rock and hard rock audiences. That is due to its combination of musical and lyrical content alike. The musical content incorporates Durbin’s obvious long-running love of vintage rock with more modern leanings and some other surprises, while the lyrical themes find their own appeal. One of the most notable of the record’s tracks comes late in its run in the form of ‘Still Fighting.’ This song will be discussed shortly. ‘Dying Breed,’ which comes early in the record’s run is one of the noted songs that takes the record in a more modern hard rock direction and whose lyrics are of note, too. It will be discussed a little later. ‘Find My Way,’ the album’s penultimate entry, is one of the many songs that takes listeners back to the days of big hair and even bigger riffs. It will be discussed later, too. All three songs noted do their own part to make Cleanbreak’s debut album interesting. When they are considered with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes Coming Home a presentation that will find appeal among a wide range of audiences.
Coming Home, the debut album from rock super group Cleanbreak, is an impressive offering from the group. The record’s appeal is noted through its musical and lyrical content alike. One of the songs that serves to make this clear comes late in its run in the form of ‘Still Fighting.’ Still fighting stands out in part because of its musical arrangement, which finds the band taking audiences in a full-on power metal direction. Yes, there is some 80s hair metal out there that borders on power metal, but there is also pure power metal, and this arrangement is the latter. It is a notable contrast in sound and style from so much of the rest of the record’s content. More specifically, the precision in the time keeping and the harmonies in the equally cutting guitar attack and Durbin’s soaring vocals makes it comparable to works from the likes of Judas Priest, Dragonforce, and others of that ilk. It is an infectious composition that is certain to resonate with audiences.
The sense of tension in the arrangement, that sense of urgency, does well to help translate the seeming lyrical theme featured alongside the song’s musical content. The theme here comes across as a commentary about the state of the world and the feeling of being lost in its all, so to speak. This is just this critic’s interpretation. The inference is made right from the song’s lead verse as Durbin sings, “Here, all these cracks in the walls/We are falling/We don’t know/Here, all the prayers get lost/In a sea of sadness/Climbing atop this mountain/Reaching the higher …/Why do we run so fast/The end of the world is coming near…Where do we hide/Who’s killing the…Where can we find/The same old…No one wants to save us/No one will comfort us/Why are we still fighting?” Some of this is difficult to decipher sans lyrics sheet, but enough of the verse and chorus is understandable that listeners can make the noted inference. It is as if Durbin is saying all these things are happening around us and we are being overwhelmed by it all because we feel like our prayers to make things better are not being heard, and how that is making things even worse. He continues in the song’s second verse, “See all this desperation/We are losing our hope/See all the darkness around us/Nowhere to go/Climbing atop this mountain/Reaching the higher goal/Why do we run so fast/The end of the world is coming near/Who’s running the sky/Where do we hide/Got no escape/Who’s killing…Where can we find/The same old…No one wants to save us/No one will comfort us/Why are we still fighting?” Again, this comes across as a statement of sorts about the negativity everywhere and the sense of desperation that it is creating in people. If in fact this is what the message was in this song, then it is a theme that is certain to resonate with audiences. That is especially the case as this possible theme is considered along with the mood set through the song’s musical arrangement. When the two are considered jointly, the whole makes the song overall just one strong example of what makes the album stand out. ‘Dying Breed’ is another clear example of how much Coming Home has to offer.
‘Dying Breed’ presents in its musical arrangement, a composition that is a full-on, modern hard rock work. The driving guitar line that forms the song’s foundation immediately lends itself to comparison to licks featured in works from bands, such as Alter Bridge, Nickelback, Theory of a Deadman, and others of their ilk. Yes, believe it or not, even Nickelback has some heavier, harder-driving compositions among the far too many cheesy works that mainstream media has used to market that band. The groove that the band establishes in this work really is so infectious, even if people don’t want to admit it. That includes the solos that are part of the whole.
The song’s musical arrangement is just one part of what makes it stand out. Its lyrical theme plays its own part in the presentation. The theme in this case is difficult to decipher, considering the seeming contrast in the song’s lead and second verse. Durbin sings in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “We went beyond the oceans/Sailed across the seven seas/Trying to find the equation/The solution for…/We have to prevail/On the rule from…/We went for impossible…/Trying to see behind the truth/What’s been done/We can’t recoup/Taking our last breath/You can’t escape what’s going on/You can deny…Do you see the shadows on the wall/Waiting for you/There’s no way out of this bad world…We’re all trapped in a world/We’re built from cages…we’re a dying breed.” The song’s second verse continues that sense with the mentions of treating love like a disease and the mentions of faith and deception. It is certain to generate plenty of discussion among audiences. That is even more the case considering the mention of talking to God. When the discussion that this content is sure to generate is paired with the song’s heavy, infectious musical content, the whole makes the song overall yet another powerful addition to Coming Home and still not its last notable entry. ‘Find My Way’ is yet another notable addition to the album.
‘Find My Way’ is one of many of the songs featured in this record whose arrangement takes audiences back to the days of big guitar riffs and even bigger hair. From the guitars to Durbin’s very vocal style, the whole of the composition sounds like something that one might expect from the likes of Ratt. At the same time, there is the most subtle touch of modern influence that blends nicely into the more prominent 80s hair metal leaning. The combination of those influences here makes the overall composition just as notable as the other songs examined here and the rest of the album’s offerings.
The lyrical content featured in the song comes across at least to this critic as a proudly defiant message about overcoming adversity. This is made relatively clear in the chorus as Durbin sings, “I’ll find a way to celebrate.” The lead verse adds somewhat to that inference as he sings about finding a way to hide the pain and the storm being ready to strike. The mentions in the song’s second verse of hate in the night and dealing with it seems to hint even more at that seeming theme. This seeming message about personal strength pairs with the song’s equally infectious musical arrangement to make the whole yet another powerful entry, showing even more what makes Coming Home so worth hearing. When it is considered along with the other songs examined here and with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes the album overall clearly another positive addition to this year’s field of new rock albums.
Coming Home, the new album from rock super group Cleanbreak, is a positive new addition to this year’s field of new rock albums. Its musical and lyrical content alike makes that clear. All three of the songs examined here serve well to make that clear. When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes the album overall a record that will appeal widely among rock and even some hard rock fans.
Coming Home is available now. More information on the album is available along with all of Cleanbreak’s latest news at https://www.facebook.com/CleanbreakMetal.