The history of hard rock and heavy metal is littered with the corpses of failed record executives who decided to back the next great female rock vocalist only to have their charges disintegrate in their faces as the twin towers of expectation and, frankly, dull song writing soon took their toll.
Marya Roxx, Estonia-born but now Los Angeles based has, with her debut album, “Payback Time” become the latest addition to the ranks. In the tangled, tribe-like world of hard rock and heavy metal, Roxx has played things straight- she has ambitions to be the next rock goddess and there’s enough promise in her debut album to suggest that with the right care and attention she could have a proper crack at it.
“Payback Time” is no esoteric, dark, shambling cacophony. It is a carefree, mainstream and commercial record with a very clear eye on the North American market. The estimable Kevin Shirley (yes he of Iron Maiden fame) has done a very solid job here. Musically, there are echoes of Anthrax and Mötley Crüe. Perhaps more surprisingly, I can hear the pop undercurrent of Avril Lavigne. You can stop sniggering at the back- actually the Lavigne influence is a good thing, lending a pop sensibility to what might have been a seriously dull rocking affair.
Opening track ‘Time to Run’, a cover of the Phantom Blue record sounds like the intro to the last Rage against the Machine record before heading into crunchy thrash riffing and soaring rock vocals. It’s a nice opening.’Rebel’ and its pounding bass lines and glam arrangements reminds me of early Mötley Crüe. Again, this is not a bad thing at all.
‘Loverboy’ a track which could have crawled off the back of the poodle rock juggernaut were it not for the addition of a Metallica like drum intro and hard guitar riffing is an obvious single. Title track, ‘Payback Time’ has a lovely refrain and chorus amid some exemplary guitar work.
There’s a decent cover of Clawfinger‘s ‘Nothing Going On’ which she sets about with a vicious aplomb: it’s going to blow you away live. ‘Payback Time’ sounds like she stole a riff or two from Nuclear Assault (hardly surprising given Scott Metaxas‘s involvement on the record) before heading into a bubblegum rock stomper that will give you a grin ear to ear.
She saves the best for last. ‘Boneyard’ is a pop song wrapped under a rock duvet. Its atmospheric, infectious and if it had been recorded by a more established artist, you wouldn’t be able to move for eulogising copy.
Don’t get me wrong. Like a lot of debut records, it’s uneven. Not all of the songs are up to premier league standard but there’s enough here to warrant further investigation. Mind you, the album cover is a shoddy affair and she deserves better.Solo artists, especially solo female artists, have a notoriously difficult time in the music business. This isn’t a plea for special treatment or pleading. However, on the strength of her debut, I do think there’s enough room in the often crowded, shouty ‘Look at me!’ world of Heavy Metal for an artist like Marya Roxx to thrive. We should give her a shot.