Hotel Diablo has more than a little kinship with late Eighties California hard rock. Vocalist Rick Stitch and guitarist Alex Grossi accompanied Guns N' Roses drummer Stephen Adler's in support of his biographical My Appetite for Destruction: Sex, and Drugs, and Guns N' Roses tour. Stitch and Grossi hooked up with the rhythm section of bassist Mike Duda (WASP) and drummer Mike Dupke (WASP, John Mellencamp) to form Hotel Diablo.
The Return to Psycho California is Hotel Diablo's debut album, and it's 1989 all over again. I shouldn't be that jaded: it's '89 brought forward and made viable for this time. There's a certain urgency to this album that reminds of the best of Nineties alternative rock, but without the angst of grunge. Ultimately, to these ears, Hotel Diablo is picking up where GnR left off, and that's not a band thing. We truly need this sound in this time against current modern fare.
Most of The Return to Psycho California is hard-charging, no compromise, hard rock without forgetting melody, vocal harmonies, lyrical hooks, and big guitar solos. Taken, Trigger, Set It Off, and Psycho California deliver all this and more. Yet, not unlike their aforementioned peers, Hotel Diablo delivers the anthem-like ballads in What You Do to Me, Bury You, and Wonderwall.
Yeah, that's three hard rock ballads, of a sort, on an album of nine songs. It's a good thing that they sound great because, in a sense, you may feel a little ripped off. Conversely, Hotel Diablo offers alternative versions of the first two. But this adds nothing more than another nine minutes to the album (although they, to the band's credit, also, sound good).
Frankly, they could have skipped these and added more tunes like Psycho California to please me. I'm hoping for bigger and better on their sophomore effort. Until then, The Return to Psycho California is strong and entertaining classic late Eighties hard rock, made relevant and enthusiastic for the second decade of the 21st century. Easily recommended.