Listen to any of Buckcherry’s previous five studio albums and you get the idea they’ve done their fair share of sinning. That isn’t to say they’re promoting poor behavior, but…ok, maybe a little bit.
Take one look at the track listing for “Confessions” and there seem to be two common themes with some additional filler material thrown into random places. The first and most obvious theme is the seven deadly sins. Seven of the album’s thirteen selections are named after each of these deadly sins along with one additional track, “Seven Ways to Die” tying a big bow around the whole idea. What makes things slightly confusing for the listener, however, is that these tracks are dispersed across the whole album in no particular order. “Seven Ways to Die,” for instance, is right in the middle with a variety of deadly sins on each side.
Opening with “Gluttony” and “Wrath,” fans get a familiar dose of Buckcherry’s straightforward rock. Although they aren’t charting any new territory with their sound, each track comes well-equipped with a hook that drags you in and holds on tight. Although the lyrics do, admittedly, always relate to the deadly sin each song is named after, it frequently feels like they took the easy way out when choosing their words. We all know gluttony deals with over-indulgence, but when writing a song about it, Buckcherry seems to have over-indulged in monotony. The chorus repeats, and I quote, “I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it, I need it, I need it, I need it, I need it, I love it, I love it, I love it, I love it.” By the end of “Gluttony” it feels like you’ve just eaten a bunch of cheese pizza. Sure, it was good, but no one ever says “you have to try the cheese pizza, it’s incredible.”
Most of the tracks relating to the deadly sins play out in the same way. Like watching the movie “Se7en,” “Confessions” spells out the key points of each sin somewhat literally. Of these sins, “Pride” seems to be taken the most seriously by Buckcherry. The band’s lead singer, Josh Todd, usually does an excellent job carrying the band with well-trained vocals that have just enough of a raw edge to fit with the band’s style, but on “Pride,” he opts for a spoken word assault. The choruses remain short and to the point, but each verse expels thought-provoking poetry at lightning speed. Without Todd’s voice sustaining any kind of melody, the track does eventually begin to drag, but Buckcherry still deserves applause for taking a shot at something a little different.
The remaining theme of “Confessions” is loosely based around the elements. With “Water” and “Air” offering listeners the occasional break from sin, Buckcherry only gets halfway through the four main elements (or 2/5 of their way to summoning Captain Planet) before abandoning this idea on the album. It is likely the elements were never meant to be viewed as a theme, especially considering both tracks focus on love as opposed to the actual element, but when included on an album that already has one clear concept, listeners are going to start looking for other commonalities in what’s left.
Although I previously called the remaining tracks on “Confessions” “filler material,” they are far from the weakest points of the album. In fact, “Nothing Left But Tears” and “The Truth” are two of the best selections of the entire record. To put it simply, these songs just feel more natural. Buckcherry isn’t trying to write about any particular subject, they’re just digitally capturing their shared love of music for all of their fans to enjoy.
With so much extra material scattered throughout “Confessions,” it’s hard to call Buckcherry’s sixth studio record a concept album and that is ultimately where it fails to achieve the lasting impact of their self-titled debut or 2006’s “15.” If they had released the seven sinful tracks heard here as a concept EP, fans likely would have applauded the effort despite the occasional lyrical shortcomings, but when sprinkled across a full-length release, the concept falls flat and weakens the remaining constituents. Fans of Buckcherry will still find plenty to enjoy here, but if you’re looking for another “Crazy Bitch,” it could be a while.