Rock super-groups. They’ve come and gone through rock’s history, but not without leaving an awesome taste in our mouths, salivating for more from them. According to an article in Guitar World, there are certain criteria, if you will, for a band to be considered a supergroup. The first is that there have to be at least 3 members. This makes sense since anything less would really just be considered more of a dynamic duo rather than a super group, don’t you think? The second is that they have to have released more than one album, no all-star jams. I suppose that’s fair enough, but I think there’s room for debate depending on how good that one album is. Third, the members have to have been in well-known bands before they formed the super group. I agree with this. If no one knows who are prior to this super group then really all you’re doing is just forming a new band. A super group cannot be formed by a well-known musician joining a pre-existing band. In other words, no Van Hagar.
Now that the “rules” are out of the way, let’s get into who some of these rock supergroups have been in the past. Since we already mentioned Van Hagar, let’s start with the red rocker himself. Mr. Sammy Hagar, along with Mr. Joe Satriani, Michael Anthony, and RHCP drummer Chad Smith teamed up to form Chickenfoot and released their debut album in 2009. Flashback to 1989 when Ted Nugent joined forces with other chart-topping rockers, Tommy Shaw of Styx and Jack Blades of Night Ranger, as well as then unknown drummer Michael Cartellone. While their second album didn’t do as well as the two-time platinum debut album, the band certainly stapled their names further into rock music with the success of their hit (and one of my person favorites) “High Enough.” Now, skipping ahead to 2001 rock music was revitalized when former Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell decided to collaborate with Tom Morello and his fellow Rage Against the Machine bandmates and formed Audioslave. The band had a good run with four albums until they disbanded in 2007. Probably the most popular of rock supergroups, despite only releasing two albums, is Velvet Revolver. With Scott Weiland as their frontman and former Guns ‘N’ Roses members Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum, the band was practically made up of some of rock’s finest and only demonstrated their skills further with the mad triumph of their biggest single, “Slither.” These are obviously just a few of the super groups over the years that graced the rock music genre.
That being said, it’s time to introduce the newest super group in rock music. Saint Asonia is made up of former Three Days Grace frontman Adam Gontier, ex-Staind guitarist Mike Mushok, ex-Five Finger Death Punch drummer Rich Beddoe, and bassist Corey Lowery. The band released their first of three singles on May 16th and made their live debut at Rock on the Range. Their debut album was released Friday, July 31st, and I gotta say, it’s not a disappointment. While I’m sure many are expecting a Three Days Grace esque sound given who the lead singer is, Saint Asonia’s sound is anything but a clone of the singer’s last band. Are Gontier’s vocals very identifiable from the first note? Absolutely. Adam Gontier has one of those unique voices in rock music that you immediately recognize when you hear him open his mouth. However, his vocals, along with Mushok and Beddoe’s own musical styles, blend together to create a sound that is currently being described as “alternative metal.” Whatever you want to call it, it’s great rock music, that’s for sure.
When listening to the album one can definitely hear the talent each musician brought with him from his previous band. A perfect example is the exceptional guitar work of Mike Mushok. There are moments when the ex-Staind guitar player shreds and those are the moments that really stand out musically. Gontier’s vocals are just as strong, if not stronger, as they were when he fronted Three Days Grace. While there are a couple moments where it sounds a little awkward while singing a lyric one way when it probably should have been singing a different way (Leaving Minnesota is a good example of this), overall Gontier delivers on every track. Even the drum work stands out thanks to the excellent musicianship of Beddoe. One thing this album has going for it is that none of the songs sound like one another. Often when an album’s songs each sound different it can create a chaotic or disorganized overall vibe to the album. On Saint Asonia, each track manages to maintain its own identity while keeping hold of the album’s universal design. One surprise while listening was the number of slower, more melancholic tunes. Typically a hard rock band includes maybe one or two, but Saint Asonia has at least three of these type of tracks, which include Waste My Time, Leaving Minnesota, and Trying to Catch Up with the World.
As far as first albums go for rock super groups, Saint Asonia pulled theirs off without a hitch. The debut album has just about everything a hard rock should want – killer riffs, spot on vocals, catchy melodies, thundering drums, and lyrics that contain just the right mix of dark twisted angst which gives a perfectly wholesome yet perverse sound to the album in its entirety. While there isn’t a song that should be or needs to be skipped, and aside from the singles, stand out tracks include Fairy Tale, Happy Tragedy, Dying Slowly and King of Nothing. Whether Saint Asonia continues as rock’s newest supergroup or they eventually go their separate ways as many do, at least they made a hell of a first impression with an album rock fans have been anticipating since the announcement was made.