‘Hypoxia’ Is An Imperfect But Enjoyable New Offering From Projected

Courtesy: Rat Pak Records

More than four years after the release of its sophomore album, Ignite My Insanity, hard rock super group Projected returned last month with that record’s follow-up, Hypoxia.  Released June 24 through Rat Pak Records (which released the band’s first two albums, too), the 13-song (14 in the expanded edition) is an intriguing new offering from the group, which is composed of Sevendust members John Connolly and Vince Hornsby, Alter Bridge drummer Scott Phillips, and Tremonti guitarist Eric Friedman.  That is due in large part to its featured lyrical content, which will be discussed shortly.  While the record’s lyrical content ensures listeners’ engagement and entertainment, its musical content is sadly imperfect.  This will be discussed a little later.  The record’s production works with the lyrical content and musical content together to make the record a presentation that while imperfect, is still worth hearing at least once.

Hypoxia, the third studio recording from hard rock super group Projected, is an interesting new offering from the quintet.  Its interest comes in large part through its lyrical content.  The album’s title track, which comes almost halfway through the record, does well to support that statement.  The song is a social commentary about people’s divisive interactions during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Connolly talked about the theme and how it related not only to the song but the album in whole, saying, “When the pandemic happened, everybody was on social media all of the time. People were going off on each other and the whole world got crazy. It was 100% hypoxia.  Everyone was talking and nobody was listening.  I had to get off socials awhile because it messes your mood up.” 

This discussion is addressed directly in the album’s title track as Connolly sings, “Why is it every time that I hear you lie/You’ve got nothing to say to make your case/Why is it all the time that I hear you whine/You’ve got no one to blame/You’re sucking out the oxygen/You’re wasting all my oxygen/You’re sucking out the oxygen/You’re wasting all my oxygen/Talking to you makes my head go numb/Bring on your halfwit/Come on, come on with it/Hypoxia/Trying to deal with you makes me come undone/Here comes some bulls***/Come on, come on with it.”  This is that back and forth that Connolly was addressing.  The commentary continues in the song’s second verse as Connolly continues, “How do you find a way to spew meaningless hate/Youv’e got something to say every day/How can you live this way?”  Again, this is that commentary.  Just as Connolly said, this type of behavior really has happened ever since the pandemic happened and sadly is still happening to this day.  To that end, this is a theme and commentary that is certain to resonate with plenty of audiences.

On another note, ‘Stain,’ which is another of the album’s singles, presents its own engaging lyrical content.  In the case of this song, it comes across as being less about social media and more of a familiar commentary about someone who is in a rough place in life. A crossroads so to speak.  This is inferred as Connolly sings in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “Love stains an everlasting hope/Hate burns a never-ending hole/Preacher man told me I should pray to God/But heaven seems such a long way to go/So I pray/If I had one last chance to change it/I’d give the world my best to save it/If I had no regrets to stain it/I’d give my everything to love again.”  This simple verse pretty much comes right out and makes the inferred theme clear.  This is someone who wants to believe people and be happy but finds it difficult to do so because those hopes and dreams have been damaged so much, clearly.  The inferred theme is continued in the song’s second verse as Connolly sings, “Spit out just exactly what you want me to be/The road I travel’s getting darker day by day/I don’t want to hear your lies/Take everything I have to give/So I pray.”  Yet again this is someone being at the pivotal moment, just wanting to know want someone(s) want him/her to be.  This is a situation in which so many audiences have found and find themselves daily.  To that point, it is a theme that will resonate just as much with so many listeners, further showing the importance of the record’s lyrical content.

‘My Addiction’ is yet another example of that importance.  As the song’s title indicates, it is a song about dealing with addiction.  This is yet another familiar theme in so much rock and hard rock that encourages listeners to conquer their addictions.  Connolly sings in the song’s lead verse, “Somehow I found what’s mine/I’m not a victim of it/I’m gonna rise above it/Some moments lost in time/I try to push on through it/And now I never lose it/Now I never lose it/I push through the end/Till I cross that line/Because when they bury me/Won’t lose this time…”  The last two lines of the chorus are difficult to decipher sans lyrics, but more than enough of the verse and chorus is understandable that audiences can easily note that the song clearly is in fact that of conquering whatever addiction one has.  The song’s brief second verse follows in similar fashion adding its own touch to the whole.  In the end, Connolly sings, “I won’t let go” before singing again about pushing on through it all.  The whole here is a powerful statement about determination to get through “this endless race.”  It all collectively is just as certain to resonate with listeners.  When it and the other themes examined here are considered along with the rest of the record’s lyrical content, the whole makes even clearer why the lyrical content featured in the album is so important to its presentation.  It more than makes up for the slight shortcoming of the album’s musical content.

The arrangements that make up the record’s body are infectious.  There is no denying that aspect.  At the same time though, so much of what audiences get in this record is what listeners have gotten from Sevendust for so many years.  There is even a clear Alter Bridge influence late in the record in the form of ‘My Addiction.’  From the heaviness and harmonies in the guitar and bass lines to the very specific vocal styling in each song, the whole of so much of this record really is nearly identical, again, to so much of what Sevendust has crafted in each of its albums.  If any of the arrangements featured here were to be played on the radio without announcement from the on-air talent, audiences would very likely think this was content from Sevendust. Add in that this is hardly the first time that the band has taken this creative avenue just as in its existing catalog, and it hurts the record to a certain point that much more. That is not to say that the record’s musical content dooms it by any means but taking that safe route certainly did not do much to help the band grow in its latest outing.

While the album’s musical arrangements seem to counter a statement made by Connolly made during a recent interview that he felt the record showed evolution and growth from the band, the production of those arrangements helps to keep listeners engaged, even despite the overt familiarity.  The production that went into the record ensured that as heavy as so much of the record is throughout, each musician’s performance is expertly balanced by that of his band mates.  The richness of each performance comes together from one song to the next to make each composition so hard hitting and in turn enjoyable even despite being so overly familiar.  To that end, it still manages to make the album mostly successful when considered with everything else.  To that end, the album proves itself worth hearing at least once.

Hypoxia, the latest album from hard rock super group Projected, is an intriguing new offering from the group.  The album’s interest comes in large part through its featured lyrical content, which is certain to resonate with audiences from one song to the next.  From social commentaries to more personal stories and more, the themes here are content that is completely relatable.  As much as the record’s lyrical content does to make it engaging and entertaining, the record’s musical content is a little more questionable.  Once again audiences get musical arrangements throughout that really are overly familiar.  For the most part what audiences get here are compositions that are more along the lines of content from Connolly and Hornsby’s main band, Sevendust, than anything that really takes any chances.  In other words, it once again finds the group largely playing it safe.  Yes, the arrangements are infectious and engaging, but it would have been nice to have heard something less familiar.  The record’s production works with the arrangements to ensure each arrangement, even being so overly familiar, is still fully immersive.  It does this by making sure the instrumentation is properly balanced in each work and that the vocals are just as clear as the instruments.  It puts the finishing touch to the whole.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the record.  All things considered they make Hypoxia maybe not perfect but still worth hearing at least once.

Hypoxia is available now through Rat Pak Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at https://www.facebook.com/ProjectedBand.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

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