One look at the Rock n’ Roll Stormtroopers tells you what kind of band they are. The clichés are all present and accounted for. There’s hellfire, cutoff denim vests, devil horns and several assurances that this record will rock your face off. All of this is extremely charming and somewhat reassuring, because as Twisted Sister once put it: We all wanna rock. Unfortunately, On Fire doesn’t deliver. My face is still present and accounted for.
The main problem with On Fire is that the Stormtroopers are too self-aware. They know the image is ridiculous and every song is delivered with a wink and a nod. There is nothing wrong with being in on the joke, but there has to be at least one serious element. For example, 90% of AC/DC’s lyrical content is utterly ridiculous, but Angus Young’s guitar work keep them from being court jesters. The Stormtroopers don’t have that, and the shtick gets old very quickly.
The Stormtroopers’ saving grace is their boundless enthusiasm. Lead singer Tex Tornado (How’s that for a rock n’ roll name?) and the boys sound like they are having a great time. The band’s heavy German accents also set them apart from a million other bands, simply because you don’t often hear such heavy accents within this genre. Unfortunately this positive trait is undercut by static production that sucks the energy out of the songs
The album’s opening track, “Bulldozers on the Loose,” sets the tone for the entire record. Tornado repeats the title of the song for a minute or so, before crooning some generic lyrics about mindless destruction. Repeat chorus. Add in a few uninspired AC/DC riffs and you have the crux of the Stormtrooper sound. “Bulldozers on the Loose” is a catchy tune, but only because the chorus is repeated ad nauseam. Every other song on the record follows this basic template, with a few minor changes to mix things up a bit. The three themes: Rock, parties, and the almighty power of rock.
The Stormtroopers have the basic idea of party rock down but they fail to understand what makes it work. It’s not really about being original, but about taking the clichés and putting your own twist on them. All the elements are in place, but the Stormtroopers haven’t figured out how to make the genre their own.
Despite these minor setbacks, the Rock n’ Roll Stormtroopers have a lot of potential. If they lose some of the shtick and tighten up their songwriting, they could be a force in the sleaze rock scene. As it stands, they are all smoke and no fire.