There’s a moment in the most recent Woodstock ’99 documentary on Netflix (like Fyre Fest, Woodstock ’99 was such a debacle that there are competing documentaries on it; next up to get that treatment will likely be Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter…), where the crowd of nü-metal fans, having been revved to a dangerous level by Korn, are successfully brought back from the edge by Bush and frontman Gavin Rossdale. Looking every bit the handsome, dirty nineties rocker with his shirt off, he brought some of that early nineties grunge spirit to unite rather than destroy. It’s a reminder of how good Rossdale was in his prime, and even if that era is as long gone as that of peace & love, he still has presence on latest album, The Art of Survival.
Always having been more post-grunge than grunge or alt-rock, Bush is in the harder rock tradition of that era, alongside the likes of Soundgarden and Alice In Chains (QRO live review with Alice in Chains). There are numerous hard attacks of varying quality on Survival, always decent if never amazing or any sort of reinvention. Instead, it is when the album slows down that it shines beyond its limitations, such as the slow epic “Slow Me” or the quieter emotional touch of “Creatures of the Fire” that one could have forgotten that Rossdale can pull off.
Removed from the massive popular acclaim (and critical backlash) of his younger years, Gavin Rossdale is happiest to stay within his Bush sandbox with The Art of Survival, even if there are hints of more.