What strikes me as odd is something that’s twofold; there’s bands that are more than happy going with the mainstream and being fads, while other bands, like Troubled Horse work long and hard to compile an album with music that throws back 40, if not 50 years. While not being the heaviest record in memory, Step inside does have a certain heaviness to it, I’m not talking Deicide style heaviness, but more of an edginess that garage/doom rock bands had before music becomes a “heaviness” arms race. Again, while not being a particularly heavy album by today’s standards, it does carry a certain punk rock attitude, almost like a more brazen sounding Deep Purple or Blue Öyster Cult, taken then deep fried with some southern hospitality. Tinges of Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top dance around while the band rocks out. It’s a modern take on an old sound that is kind of doom, rock, garage, but kind of isn’t; it doesn’t hesitate to get a little bit boogie nor a little bit groovy. It just does its own thing. Step Inside, is a singles driven album, by which I mean that there are songs that are far above the others. While in no way is this saying that the lesser tracks on the album suck, they aren’t anywhere near as strong as the singles tracks. However, even the weaker tracks on the album fit into the “thing” Troubled Horse has going on.
What that “thing” is a confident sound regardless of the genre that it is. While some tracks like “Tainted Water” really tap into an early Blue Öyster Cult mixed with Sex Pistols feel, other tracks play a more calmed ZZ Top meets Lynyrd Skynyrd type of sound. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the drastic tempo changes stop the album from really taking off in any proper manner. It’s not until a little bit later that Step Inside really takes off again with “Another Man’s Name”. Without any hesitation, one can easily say that this is the golden sound that Troubled Horse should be aiming for; it’s without a doubt the strength of the album and shines high above any of the other styled tracks. Point again, this is proven by the true diamond of the album “One Step Closer to My Grave”, not just because it’s the best song on the album, but because Troubled Horse is so damned great at this sound that you wish that the rest of the album sounded exactly this, a mixture of later era Donnas with early Alice Cooper, but unfortunately it’s not the case.
The production regretfully leaves more to be desired; most of the tracks are relatively flat as far as the bass and drums are concerned. While you can hear them without a problem, they don’t provide any of the thump that they should. Rather than being a contributing force, they feel like a reluctant after thought. Pity they dropped the ball, because the rhythm section of Troubled Horse is damned good. Regardless of the production quality, the end of the album approaches and if nothing else, it becomes apparent that Troubled Horse is an incredibly capable band with an insanely adept musicians at the helm. “I’ve Been Losing” lets all of the band shine with a throwback sound of something like Steppenwolf. Suddenly, I don’t find myself concentrating too much any more on the faults of the album; luckily through quality work the songs on Step Inside are strong enough to turn any of the problems into wishes rather than hankering necessities that anchor down the album.
However, one simply can’t help feeling that with some more tweaking, Step Inside could have been much better; a little here, a little there and we’d have a real gem. Step Inside is by no means a bad nor even a weak album; it’s just clearly not the best work that Troubled Horse can do, that much is apparent. But with another step at the batter’s box, I’m sure Troubled Horse could easily knock it out of the park.