Man Raze – Surreal (2008)

Posted: June 5, 2008 in Album Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Man Raze – Surreal (2008, VH-1 Classic Records)

  1. This Is
  2. Turn It Up
  3. Runnin’ Me Up
  4. Every Second Of Every Day
  5. Spinning Out
  6. Can’t Find My Own Way
  7. Skin Crawl
  8. Low
  9. Connected To You
  10. Halo
  11. It’s Entertainment
  12. Shadow Man

Band Lineup:
Phil Collen – Lead & Backing Vocals, all Guitars
Paul Cook – Drums & Backing Vocals
Simon Laffy – Bass, Programming & Backing Vocals

Produced by: Man Raze & Ger McDonnell

Total Time = 39:45

Man Raze official website
Man Raze MySpace page
Def Leppard official website
VH-1 Classic

Man Raze is the brainchild of Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen. The band consists of long time friend and Girl bandmate Simon Laffy and Sex Pistols’ drummer Paul Cook. The band started in mid-2004 as a side project for songs Collen had been writing that didn’t quite fit into his day job with Def Leppard. With the collaboration between the three musicians, the band released a maxi-single E.P. of four rough songs in 2006 and played a few gigs. The response was extremely encouraging and the band commenced work on a full-length album, SURREAL.

The first thing I thought of when I heard about this project was how similar the music would sound to Def Leppard’s. Phil Collen is a major part of the Def Leppard sound from the writing to the guitar to the vocals (it’s Collen’s vocal style that compliments/backs up Joe Elliot’s lead vocals on every Lep record since PYROMANIA). I also figured that the drumming would have a specifically raw Punk style with Paul Cook on the kit so the idea of Def Leppard meets the Sex Pistols seemed like two polar opposites meeting to create a wall of noise. After the first few spins, I hear a variety of styles from Hard Rock and Punk to Reggae and New Wave with a touch of Glam. That’s a lot of styles to blend and reminds me of another trio…..The Police. The production is raw, almost live sounding, more like an underground garage band with a raw “in your face” rhythm section.

Opening track ‘This Is’ is a Hard Rock/Punk hybrid that’s high energy while ‘Turn It Up’ could easily be a Def Leppard song if it was polished up, it sounds like a Def Lep demo. The Police comparisons come with ‘Runnin’ Me Up’ with it’s Reggae beat and Collen’s guitar having that Andy Summers twang to it. I like The Police so this song appeals to me unlike the Punk vibe on the first two songs, the problem is there really isn’t much to the song lyrically so it becomes repetitive. ‘Every Second Of Every Day’ is a pretty good mid-tempo song with a cool hook to the chorus. It sounds like Def Leppard and could have easily fit on X or SONGS FROM THE SPARKLE LOUNGE especially in the vocal and guitar lines. Same goes for ‘Spinning Out’, it sounds like a Def Lep throwaway from the last couple of albums but what makes it interesting is Phil Collen’s vocal impersonation of Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top). The Police/Sting reggae vibe returns with ‘Can’t Find My Own Way’ but it is better lyrically than it’s counterpart ‘Runnin’ Me Up’ and it also has a few cool guitar flourishes.

The first proper single from SURREAL is ‘Skin Crawl’ and it sounds, well, like raw Def Leppard from the last few albums. I hate to keep comparing Man Raze to Def Leppard but with Phil Collen being such a major contributor to both bands it’s hard not to hear the similarities. Of all the songs so far, ‘Skin Crawl’ has the best blend of Hard Rock, Punk, and the raw sounding production and it sounds more like some of the modern garage bands. ‘Low’ follows the same path although it’s not as heavy as ‘Skin Crawl’ at least until the chorus. It’s another raw track that sounds like a Def Lep demo. When I say “demo”, I mean that in a good way because the production is a complete contrast to what Phil Collen is normally involved with. Def Leppard is polished and slick while Man Raze is raw and rough. When I call a Man Raze song a “Def Lep demo”, it’s not because the song ideas aren’t developed, it’s because the production is as basic as a demo and the songs sounds like the Leps.

‘Connected To You’ has a fast Punk/Police vibe going for it while the guitar parts in ‘Halo’ sound very close at times to Def Leppard’s new single ‘Nine Lives’, it’s definitely almost the same tone. ‘It’s Entertainment’ has a catchy chorus and some interesting guitar and is probably one of the more polished songs on the album. I like Collen’s use of a little extra accent in his vocal and it comes off very similar to Joe Elliot. Actually, throughout SURREAL, you really get an idea of Collen’s vocal contibutions to his man band’s sound because he sounds almost exactly like Joe Elliot at times, especially the current lower registered Elliot. It’s obvious that his background vocals are a huge part of the Def Lep sound. ‘Shadow Man’ is another one of those songs that sounds like a Def Leppard song, especially in the vocal and guitar lines.

Bottom Line:
I’ve been spinning SURREAL for a couple of weeks and I’ve found this album to be somewhat of a “grower”. At first, I wasn’t digging it, probably due to the fact that I wasn’t really expecting much from this side project. The different styles and raw production made the album seem fragmented especially when compared to Phil Collen’s main band Def Leppard. It’s hard to not compare Man Raze to Def Leppard because many of the songs sound like raw, unpolished Lep tunes. That’s due to Collen’s vocals and guitar tone but there is enough different styles included to make things interesting, especially the Reggae tracks that sound like early Police. Reggae is not my thing but it’s definitely something unexpected and fresh. I thought ‘Skin Crawl’ was the best song on the album and I enjoyed hearing the songs that sounded like Def Lep ideas. I’m a Def Leppard fan, it’s hard to separate it all. Definitely a grower of an album with enough different music to make it interesting.

Favorite songs: ‘Skin Crawl’, ‘Every Second Of Every Day’, ‘Spinning Out’, ‘Low’

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Comments
  1. Anne says:

    All I got out of that is your a lep fan. I’m sure they appreciate that you mentioned them 17 times on that page.

    Man raze is very original and refreshingly different in my opinion. Its an eclectic mix of music you would never find on a Lep album. Phil is amazingly talented and has a great voice. You need to hear some of the remixes and live stuff. So far right of Lep.

    So to review your review it was more like a DL pep rally. Stop listening to Lep for a couple weeks, listen to Surreal again with an open clear mind. Go to myspace and listen to some of the remixes and live stuff then write a review about man raze.

  2. Anne – Your opinion is noted. Please accept my opinion. While I don’t think it’s a bad album, I just couldn’t get into it. I also wouldn’t call it a Def Lep pep rally, I just pointed out the similarities between Phil’s input with DL and his new stuff with Man Raze.

    I just got through reading some reviews at some of the major Rock websites and they also compare it to Def Lep, that’s what Phil is known for.
    Remember, this is only my opinion on the album, everyone will have a different experience.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Anne – Did you also read the parts where I compared some songs to The Police? I think I interpreted the album as I heard it and I don’t think that caomparing Man Raze with Def Leppard is a bad thing. It might even give some people who are on the fence a reason to buy the record.

  4. David Amulet says:

    As an objective observer, I think your review was balanced. Oh well.

    Your observations about it being Police-like, something I hadn’t expected, make me much more likely to check it out. I’ve never been a huge Collen fan, but if he can echo The Police I’m interested.

  5. Rob Rockitt says:

    I am beginning to think that I am the only one that really likes this album. I thought this one was a little more thought provoking that the new Def Lep album. A solid disc for sure.

  6. David – The whole album isn’t like the Police but when Man Raze goes Reggae you can definitely hear a Police vibe. There’s some Hard Rock, Punk, modern Rock as well and it’s one of those albums that has grown on me with repeated listens.

    Rob – I preferred the new Def Lep disc but thats just me. Surreal is interesting, there’s a distinct blend of styles but I could hear a lot of current day DL in the music. Like I said, it’s a grower for me.

  7. Karen says:

    Anne, once again you showed how unprofessional and biased you are. Promoting the band is all good, but to blast everyone who doesn’t like everything this band does is not. Get over it.

    If you expect people not to compare this to Def Leppard, then WAKE UP. Of course they will, just like Paul McCartney’s albums will always be compared to the Beatles, and David Gilmour’s to Pink Floyd.

    I’ve listened to the album with an open mind, WITHOUT expecting (or hoping) to hear Def Leppard. I don’t even like Def Leppard that much anymore. I did listen to the remixed and guess what? I still wasn’t impressed at all by Man Raze. Very dull, no clear direction or style, it’s too much different things on one album.

    Your drive to make the entire world Man Raze fan is similar to religious freaks who want the entire world to believe in their own god. Stop being a such a radical and DEAL with the fact that there are not that many people that are impressed by this poor attempt of an album.

  8. Jamie says:

    I’m no expert of course and yeah, I am a Def leppard fan. I believe that is how most of us heard about Man Raze in the first place.

    However, his isn’t about Def Leppard, is it. If you ask me, Leppard and Man Raze are two COMPLETELY different entities that share one thing, Phil Collen.

    So…..on to my humble opinion of this album…..

    Since I first downloaded ‘Surreal’ from iTunes and then bought the disc this past Tuesday, I’ve listened to it countless times. I think the best thing about this record is diversity of style in almost every song. I find very refreshing and it keeps it interesting to listen to over and over again.

    Some songs make you want to dance (Runnin’ Me Up….Turn It Up) and some that just plain make you smile (Low…..Every Second of Every Day). That’s what any music is all about to me.

    Like I said, I’m no expert. I don’t know really know the textbook definition of a ‘good song’. All I know is what I THINK is a good song and ‘Surreal’ is FULL of them! I enjoyed and will continue to enjoy this album immensely!

  9. Melinda says:

    I think the review is fair and balanced. It is very difficult not to compare Phil’s work in Man Raze to Def Leppard. With that said, here are my thoughts,…I really like the fantastic song Skin Crawl & the melodic song Shadow Man(that sounds alot like something Def Leppard would do). I think some of Phil’s vocals feel forced on a few songs. Otherwise, this is a great cd and I like the different styles–that is what makes it unique!

  10. Laura says:

    I felt the review had a very positive spin, however, I also believe that Anne has a valid point. With so many direct comparisons involving Def Leppard, this particular review could very well turn someone away from checking the CD out for themselves. Not everyone likes Def Leppard. As a member of the Man Raze Street Team, I feel our main objective is to get this CD heard by as many people as possible. And unfortunely for us, this review won’t help us reach the people who might be negatively influenced by all the Def Leppard references.

    So, anyone negatively influenced, go out and buy the CD. Give it a try and make up your own minds. If you like it, “Hey you’ve got a new CD!” If you don’t like it, give the CD to a friend you think will like it! And “Hey, they’ve got a new CD!”

  11. Donna says:

    Thank you to Laura. I am a Man Raze Street Team member myself and support the band in every way. I love the new CD and would recommend it to anyone interested in new music. We want the band to succeed but it’s true, not everyone is a Def Leppard or Sex Pistols fan. Go out and try it, if you don’t like it give the CD to someone else. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

  12. I heard about Man Raze from a news bit on a Hard Rock website and Man Raze and Phil Collen were in the subject line. Being a Def Leppard fan, I was interested because of Phil Collen. I would tend to think that Phil’s career in DL would only help promote the Man Raze band/album. Everything I’ve read about Man Raze states that the members are from DL, Girl, and Sex Pistols. Obviously, fans of those bands are a target audience.

    I reviewed the Paul Stanley solo record when it came out and it was comparable to KISS. Same with Don Dokken’s latest solo album. A fan can’t help but know who these people are, know the bands they are in, and compare the music to what they already know. I’m no expert, I just write my opinion and not everyone agrees, that’s the whole point. I’m sure if readers Google Man Raze they will find reviews praising the album, reviews middle of the road, and reviews that trash the record. What reviews do is give people an idea/information of what they are going to hear. Luckily, we have places like MySpace and band websites that offer samples, I add those links in. People should gather information and make their own decision.

    Here’s something I don’t understand. Anne wants me to look at the album from a standpoint with no Def Leppard connection but the main traffic coming to this review is from the Def Leppard.com forums. The main page of the NEWS section on Def Leppard.com has a Man Raze press release and Phil’s bio has a link to Man Raze. If the head of the Man Raze street team is so concerned about people confusing Man Raze with DL then she should talk to the DL webmaster.

  13. Laura says:

    In a perfect world, new music would be judged on it’s own merits. But this is not a perfect world, so let me ask you this. Is the music on this CD solid enough to stand on it’s own without the comparisons? Is it a viable offering to the music world? What does it offer to the music world that is new and exciting? I think the main point here is that your review could have been a well-written piece, without all of the comparisons. They weren’t needed, they were fluffy, they are a distraction that takes focus from “Surreal” and Man Raze and puts it on the various Def Leppard albums. As you pointed out above, Def Leppard fans are already aware that Man Raze is out there. That point has been heavily and well promoted. I think that the main concern the Man Raze Street team has is that in your review, it seems like you took the easy road, and focused on the comparisons between Def Leppard Phil and Man Raze Phil. Somewhere in there the review on the music the CD and Man Raze has to offer got lost. So, yeah, in a perfect world, the music on “Surreal” and Man Raze the band would be reviewed on their own merits.

  14. I think you all are missing the point. I listened closely to every track and some of the songs sounded like the current Def Leppard sound in raw form, not as polished or slick like DL’s production would be. If the song sounds like something that could have been on a DL album, I’m stating that fact. No problems with comparisons to The Police though right? No problem with my thought that Phil sounded like Billy Gibbons on ‘Spinning Out’? That’s comparing Man Raze to other bands, is that OK?

    My review stands and it’s obvious the some of the members of the Man Raze street team disagree. I give up…..

  15. Laura says:

    And I think you are missing our point. You listened to every track with the intention of comparing them to Def Leppard. In fact so much to the point that you critique Phil’s performance on every song and no mention, is made of what Simon or Paul contribute to each song. Your review is not on “Surreal” the Man Raze CD, but on the differences between Phil’s two bands.

    As for the Billy Gibbons reference, guess I was in shock because you didn’ go back to “Slang” as a Def Leppard reference ;) More to the point, the Police references weren’t overly abundant and were in fact well placed. I did say that there were positive aspect to your review. If the references to Def Leppard were as discreet I don’t think we’d have anything to discuss. As I said above, comparisons are inevitable.

    Quite obviously, your review will stand as is…. as even I don’t expect you to re-write it just because the street team disagrees with you. But it is my hope that when you write future reviews, of future bands, that you write with more of an open mind towards all members that have contributed towards the music.

  16. Jenn says:

    Clearly you haven’t listened to all of the Police records closely, so the truth you have with the sound of THE POLICE & that of MANRAZE’S……….RUNNING ME UP…………(NO COMPARISON PAL)I respct you have a J.O.B…..but this is what we the street team are here for…….. TO BE FANS, to help you the reviewers follow suit. sorry for yelling but, i ,m new to this team & have been paying attention to this mess long enough that I NEEEEEEED an AMEN TO THAT.Can I get an AMEN now? Thanks for hearing the newbe out.

  17. Delirious Nomad says:

    The Police vibe is definitly there. Also in ” Every Second Every Day ” , where Phil sometimes sounds a little like Sting. OK there are some other influences and it’s not as polished as Def Leppard, but I’m having a hard time imagining that ” Surreal ” appeals to people not liking Def Leppard and all they are standing for. ” Surreal ” is very entertaining, but for me ” Songs From The Sparkle Lounge ” is much stronger.

  18. Sorry, I have no idea what Jenn is saying.

    Delirious Nomad – I agree with you, I prefer the new Def Lep to Man Raze but, like I mentioned in the review, the album grows on you…..that’s a positive statement. Just clarifying that in case I offend more street team members.

  19. Laura says:

    Just clarifying that I did say, in each of my comments, that you made some positive statements! But you forgot two members of the band, who had a great deal to do with making this CD! The review was a comparison of Def Leppard Phil and Man Raze Phil. Paul Cook was mentioned twice, neither one in reference to the drum sound on any of the songs! While you did mention the drum sound, you didn’t give him the credit that you overwhelmingly gave Phil thoroughout the review! And the only reference to Simon Laffy is that he’s an old friend of Phils! I find it weird that you couldn’t find any thing to say about Simon or Paul’s contributions to the CD.

    Def Leppard has always been my favorite band, and Man Raze is a really close second. Most likely because Phil has never written anything I haven’t liked. I never said that your comparisons were off, I never said that your opinions were wrong, I never said that I was offended by what you had written. I was attempting to have a discussion with you about the fact that you didn’t write a review about “Surreal” the Man Raze CD.

    Personally, as in my opinion only, I believe you wrote a review about “Surreal” the songs we’re never going to hear on a Def Leppard CD. Which is a tragedy, since I believe that Simon, Paul and Phil have alot to contribute to the world of music as the band Man Raze!

  20. Melinda says:

    It seems that the Man Raze street team wants everything “thier” way. I came back to read some more reviews and found three Man Raze’s street team members attacking the reviewer,…what a turn off. The street team is so concerned that any “negative” reviews will affect whether or not someone will buy the cd, yet they themselves are being negative by being rude and condescending. Do you honestly think that the band would appreciate this? Isn’t your “job” to promote Man Raze, not offend those who are interested in Man Raze? Man Raze’s street team,…show some respect!

    Once again it is a good album and the rhodeislandrock is correct on his review in regards to the Police-the influence is definately there.

    Peace.

  21. Laura says:

    Melinda or anyone who feels the same way:
    As I am the person from the street team who has commented the most, please point out to me how I have indicated that I want things my way. Please point out for me how I have been negative, rude or condescending. Please point out for me how I have not shown him proper respect. In each of my comments, I have been positively trying to start a discussion about what I (personally) found lacking in the review.

    As a free-thinking music lover, who is not “employeed” by the band but who indeed volunteers my time passing out flyers etc ….. I have been stating my opinion and asking for clarification on his thoughts on the points I have been making. My first comment leaves it up to potential buyers to make up their own mind, and my further comments were to answer questions and comments that have been brought up by the reviewer. Yes, I have a problem with the fact that two members of the band were ignored when he made his review. And as of yet, he has not satisfied me with an answer. Am I not allowed to continue to seek an answer because I am a member of the street team?

  22. Laura’s first comment was that the review had a positive spin so I have no problem with her assessment of the album or my review. She has been professional in her comments.

    The reason why I focused in on Phil Collen is because he is the person I am most familiar with AND he has been the focal point for promotion of Man Raze since it’s inception. Look at all the major press, its mostly done by Phil although I am sure that Simon and Paul also have done some as well.

  23. Melinda says:

    Laura, you just made my point about street team members having their way,…”he has not satisfied me with an answer”. All this angst really shines a poor light on Man Raze’s volunteer efforts. There are more important things in this world to be concerned about and sometimes as humans we need to put things into perspective. It is one thing to be passionate and opinionated and another to be nearly obsessed with opinions to the point of negative force. No worries to any on this site,..I won’t be back. Love & Light to all.

  24. Laura says:

    Melinda:
    Wanting personal satisfaction, is now having my own way and I have angst? I’m really confused here. I don’t think that I’ve been passionate, or opinionated to any extreme. In fact whenever I make any comment, anywhere, I make a concerted effort to keep forceful comments out of my response, to be respectful to the author of the orginal comment and to express my opinion in a way that will invite discussion. I’m sorry that the values I live my life by are concidered to be obsessive and negative from your prospective. Blessed Be.

    RhodeIslandRock:
    Thank You for the personal support, and thanks for answering the question so promptly. I can understand why your review took the direction it has if most of the press you’ve seen has been Phil doing the promoting. The natural assumption would be that Phil is the angle they are using to promote this band. So, I hope that you can understand, that the street team has been exposed to all three members doing interviews together, with Simon taking a leading role in most of the interviews I’ve seen and read. In fact Simon is the member of the band that we deal with, and hear from the most. And it was somewhat upsetting to see little to no mention of him or Paul, and to have the review focus around Phil and not only that to include Def Leppard comparisons ;) It’s Simon, Paul and Phil, they are a package, they are Man Raze! And it can be quite frustrating when you’ve worked hard to promote the idea, the package that is Man Raze and suddenly it becomes a solo project. Each of these men have contributed so much to this band, that they should recieve equal credit.

  25. You know what I like about all of this discussion? It’s about Man Raze and the music. Sure, my review is under fire here and especially at the Def Leppard.com forums but that is OK by me. Why? Because people are talking passionately about music.

    No one is ever going to agree 100% of the time, we are all entitled to our own opinions. My review is my opinion and, if it focuses too much on Phil Collen, then that was my focus and opinion. The same goes for how Laura, Anne, Donna and the rest of the street team feel about SURREAL. The good thing is that there are places to debate each other without having to resort to personal attacks, etc.

    I’m still listening to the Man Raze disc because I want to hear if there is something I missed. The passion that the street team members is obvious and it could be possible that I could have missed some of the finer points of the record. As I have done with other reviews, there is a possibility in the future to add to the existing review. I won’t change the original review but I am always up for updating it if I hear something interesting or if I have new insights into my listening experience.

  26. Laura says:

    It’s been nice discussing music with you over the last couple of days! But my days off are over and I have to go back to work now! Enjoy “Surreal” and I’ll be back to read your new music reviews!

  27. Katrina says:

    Jeez, I came here to read a review and see an obnoxious display by the street team. I think the guy’s review was fair. Every review I have read has references to Def Leppard. It’s his opinion. That’s what all reviews are: an opinion. Blasting the reviewer just smacks as obnoxious and pushy. It’s a turn off and I think you are doing Phil more harm than good with this type of behaviour. It doesn’t come across as passionate but obsessive. A trait that many Def Leppard fans have been labeled with for years. Thanks for keeping the stereotype alive for the non-psychotic fans. I won’t be back. I’m not interested in arguing with 45 yr old fanatics.

  28. Metal Misfit says:

    What a war you’ve started! ;)

  29. Tom wright says:

    I am a closet def leppard fan just for the reason that was mentioned earlier about the fans being pushy. The manraze cd is good musically but phil needs to stick to guitar. His taking on the roll of lead vocals is a bad idea imo. i didnt enjoy that part of the cd. the drums and bass are solid as well as the guitar work. 3 out of 5 stars.

  30. Laura says:

    Katrina etc…..: “Attacking” the whole Man Raze Street Team based on the stated opinions of four members is beyond moronic! You have a problem with the way some members of the street team have expressed their opinions, calling it obnoxious and pushy and accuse us of blasting the reviewer, who is only stating his opinion. So, in the same vein, you and others are being obnoxious and pushy by blasting the street team for expressing their individual or sometimes collective opinions.

    On my part, what you have mistaken for an obnoxious display is called a discussion. Which is what can happen when people have differing opinions. It requires atleast two people to have an open mind that allows them to explore the depths of someone else’s opinon. One person asks a question or two, and the other person answers and asks questions of their own. This can go back and forth for quite awhile, or it can end quickly. The end result is atleast two people who after having a quiet dignified exchange can say that they now better understand each others point of view.

    Having outlined what I expect from a discussion, I will now make the attempt at having a discussion with you as I am not interested in arguing with 45 year old fanatics either, on this we agree. The review was good, I have already stated this, we agree. Most reviews, if not all have made references to Def Leppard, we agree.

    My first differing opinion was that there were excessive comparisons, and that they weren’t needed. They were in fact out of character for the reviewer as his reviews are usually tighter, without all the fluff the comparisons added. Do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

    My second differing opinion was that there was too much Phil and not enough Paul and Simon. That Man Raze is a three piece band, not Phil’s side project. There are three experienced musicians contrubuting their musical knowledge to this band and this CD and they all deserve equal recognition. Do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

    My third differing opinion was that the street team’s main objective is to promote the band as a whole. And that our focus is not on promoting individual members above others. I know we disagree on this, as you stated that we are doing Phil more harm than good. I’m a fan of Def Leppard, and I didn’t hide the fact that I like everything Phil has written. But only a complete musical moron would join a street team without a belief in the music AND the band. So, yeah, I’m okay with this not doing Phil any good, as long as people understand that the band consists of Paul, Simon and(as in also, not the only member) Phil.

    So, call me whatever you would like to, it’s your opinon, some will agree and some will disagree, go ahead argue about it, or have a discussion. But don’t refuse to check out the CD because you disagree with the way it’s being promoted by four members of a street team with 7500 members! That’s infinitle and moronic! In the end the only important thing is the music and whether or not you like it. It’s about the music!

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