Total Stranger (Reissue)

Total Stranger

Originally formed in Hamilton, Canada during 1985, TOTAL STRANGER split up several years ago and […]
By Louise Brown
June 4, 2019
Total Stranger - Total Stranger (Reissue) album cover

Originally formed in Hamilton, Canada during 1985, TOTAL STRANGER split up several years ago and have remained largely inactive ever since. Their self-titled album "Total Stranger" was originally released in 1997. It was recently reissued which is why I am reviewing it today.

The first track, "Paradise" is classic Power Metal circa the 1990s; if you were around back then you'll get returned to those days as soon as you hear the opening notes. The song features beautiful guitar riffs, plenty of nice vocal harmonies, and heavy use of a synthesizer which is how things were done back in those days. It's the type of music I listened to in my late teens as well as my in my twenties and I am honestly surprised to find that I still enjoy some of it. This song is not exactly sophisticated, but it still sounds really, really good. "Bed Of Lies" starts out slower, with a more dramatic lead-in. It's a classic "she's cheating on me" song where the guy singing it is pleading with his lady to be faithful to him. It's pretty cliche, I know, but it actually works in this case, with plenty of pretty guitar hooks as well as a good vocal performance with lots of harmony. Reminded me a bit of DOKKEN as well as TRIUMPH. "Shy Away" is a true power ballad. It's sufficiently sweet without over-doing it. It's the restraint shown that really impresses me. The lyrics don't insult your intelligence or beat you to death with sentimental drivel. As an added bonus, the music itself is quite good, too. I actually did not mind the song, and since I have no heart whatsoever that should tell you a great deal.

Unfortunately, those are the highlights from the album. Things start going downhill after that, beginning with "Can't Stop," which is an anthem about, wow, not stopping. The song left me cold because it sounds like every other "motivational" Metal song that I'd heard during my younger days. It's been done far too many times before. "Yesterday" is an acoustic-infused composition about a potential romantic break-up. The guy in the song begs his other half to stay with him because he won't be the same if she is gone. The topic worked well enough back when the album was originally released, but times have changed drastically since then. Now it comes across as rather needy as well as pretty annoying. I probably would have had a kinder reaction if I didn't feel as if I'd already heard it one hundred times before. The next few selections also suffer from the same problems; a topic that has been written about for decades as well as a sound that was already played out by the time the '90s ended. About the only other song that I enjoyed is "The Mask," and even it is predictable since it is a song about a man who feels as if he has to hide behind a mask in order to keep his true nature/feelings safe because he's been hurt so many times before. Luckily, the music in the song is played very well and helps to enhance the vocal harmonies that also help to conceal the lack of originality.

Please don't misunderstand; if you still enjoy Power Metal that is alright. I still like some of it, too, emphasis on "some of it." However, when it is clear that the band was more concerned about sticking to the tried-and-true Power Metal formula that was established last century rather than taking some creative risks it becomes hard for me as a reviewer to feel very excited. "Total Stranger" is adequate, but nothing to rave about.

5 / 10









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"Total Stranger (Reissue)" Track-listing:
  1. Paradise
  2. Bed Of Lies
  3. Shy Away
  4. Can't Stop
  5. Yesterday
  6. Guardian
  7. Can't Win For Losin'
  8. Nothin's Missin'
  9. The Mask
  10. Big Dream
  11. Shoulder To Cry On
Total Stranger Lineup:

Al Langlade-  Vocals, guitar
Andre Pelletier-  Guitar
Jim Flynn-  Guitar, backing vocals, keyboard
Rolly Saunlier-  Bass
Peter Martin-  Drums

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