Rock Masters Band are a new supergroup from Finland dedicated to all things rock. Looking back to the heyday of rock and the mega-groups of the 80s and early 90s for inspiration, Sami “Haxu” Hakala is looking to re-create all the glitz, glamour and hard rock attitude of this era with the group’s newest double single, Hit the City/Diamonds.
Haxu’s Rock Masters Band supergroup includes members who are or were part of other popular bands in Finland. Bassist Jimi Sero is known for his work with 90’s Finnish rock band Smack, and guitarist Ace Mark was with an American band called Bigelf, who are hugely popular in Scandinavia and Finland. Haxu himself has been in bands all his life, most notably Breeze and Species, two 90s-era rock bands. The group has just released their first collection of singles since their last full-length album, March of the Pink Fat Elephants in 2013.
The original Rock Masters Band formed in 2007 and saw some success with previous releases, including 2010’s debut Taking Liberties, the aforementioned March of the Fat Pink Elephants, and a 2011 b-side album called Take Out! After March of the Fat Pink Elephants, the guitar and bass parts changed hands in the band, as Sero and Mark replaced two original band members for this double single release.
The first song on this high-powered double single is Hit the City, a cover of the 2004 Mark Lanegan alt rock original. Haxu’s vocals on this track will remind listeners of Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie. He takes this smoky, very indie original in an 80s hard rock direction, and it is quite a departure. Preference between original and cover for audiences will depend on whether they prefer a more alt-rock flavor or Haxu’s hard rock version.
Haxu names groups like the Rolling Stones, Queens of the Stone Age and The Black Keys as influences, and the original composition Diamonds, the second single on this release, contains a bit of all of them with his usual hard rock twist on things. Despite the band being from Finland, the fast and driving guitar on this track with Haxu’s high-pitched major key vocals will transport audiences to the Rainbow on the Sunset Strip, circa 1985. If Haxu’s goal was a hard-driven, feel-good 80s throwback song, he has most certainly met it with Diamonds.
With the Rock Masters Band intent on rocking as hard as they can, the new double single of Hit the City/Diamonds is certainly a step in the right direction. All the members of the current incarnation of Rock Masters Band seem intent on keeping rock alive. As the band has promised more releases to come later in 2015, audiences will be able to see what kind of rock this supergroup has in store. In the meantime, Rock Masters band has an extensive Youtube library with a number of interesting videos from Taking Liberties and March of the Pink Fat Elephants. Both Diamonds and Hit the City are up on the Youtube channel as well, or each song can be streamed on the Rock Masters Band’s Soundcloud page. Links to these sites appear below in “Sources.”
Review by Layla Klamt