Extreme have announced their long-awaited return with the release of new single, Rise, and a new studio album titled Six, which hits stores and streaming on 9 June. But right now it is all about Rise, a track that offers a reminder, if needed, that there are few players more capable of manipulating the electric guitar than Nuno Bettencourt.
That looks to be a theme of Six, their first album in 15 years, with Bettencourt promising “a lot of fire” and no shortage of fretboard spectacle, revealing that his mindset going into the record was influenced by the death of Eddie Van Halen, and what that meant for hard-rock guitar playing in the 21st century.
“When Eddie Van Halen passed, it really hit me,” said Nuno. “I’m not going to be the one who will take the throne, but I felt some responsibility to keep guitar playing alive. So, you hear a lot of fire on the record.”
Bettencourt might be too modest to admit it, but there are few who contest his stock as heir to the EVH throne. When it comes to hard-rock guitar’s preeminent stylists, Bettencourt is right up there.
Rise is case in point. Favouring his tradmark Washburn N4 signature guitar, Bettencourt's solo two-and-a-half minutes in leans on the vocabulary established by Eddie Van Halen, with whammy bar scoops and prestissimo lead lines presaging a headlong dive into that hyper-kinetic yet elastic style of his. And those arpeggios that take us back to the chorus are certifiably mind-blowing.
Also, with frontman Gary Cherone having enjoyed a stint fronting Van Halen in the late ‘90s, releasing one studio album with the band, Van Halen III, in 1998, there is an argument to be made that Extreme are best placed to occupy a similar place as rock guitar’s most box-office spectacle.
Bettencourt’s fingerprints are all over Six. He directed the video for Rise, which was shot on location in Los Angeles, and he produced the album, with the band decamping to his home studio in LA for the sessions.
“Whatever you think an Extreme album is after two or even three songs, it’s not,” said Bettencourt. “That goes for every record we’ve ever done. True Extreme fans know to ‘expect the unexpected.’ I feel like we need a good old school rock album. Six is definitely modern, but you can put on headphones and go on a journey from top-to-bottom. It’s like ‘Extreme 2.0’.”
“With Extreme, there’s always a lot of passion and a little piss and vinegar,” added Cherone. “We’re not in competition with anybody else, but we strive to outdo ourselves. There are some moments on this album where we did. We’ve managed to stay together after all these years. We feel like we have something to prove when we get on stage or in the studio. Because of that, I believe some of these songs are among the best we’ve written.”
Six is available for preorder and ships 9 June via earMUSIC.