Chances are, if you sported big poofy-teased hair and lipstick in the 80s/early 90s, 1992 was not your year. With the release of Nirvana's "Nevermind," (1991) almost overnight, everything that had been cool was rendered obsolete and bands that had been huge were left out in the cold.
Warrant is the textbook example of one of those bands whose popularity was killed by the alt. rock and grunge boom of the early 90s. The LA quintet had actually come along late in the game, releasing two massive albums at the tale end of the hair-metal era, with 1989's "Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich" and 1990's "Cherry Pie." While Warrant indulged in typical hair-metal cliché's; like the power ballads ("Heaven," "Sometimes She Cries") and the not-too-subtle sexual innuendos ("Down Boys," "Cherry Pie") they were actually one of the best bands to come out of the genre. The thing that separated Warrant from a million other hair-bands of the late 80s/early 90s is singer Jani Lane's solid-songwriting. While "Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich" was a pretty superficial fluff-piece, it was very well-written and a heck of a lot of fun. "Cherry Pie," contrary to the public's perception (the video surely didn't help their cause) was a first-rate album that saw the band mature and branch out artistically.
Perhaps as a response to the grunge/alt.rock movements of the early 90s, Warrant made the most aggressive album of their career with 1992's "Dog Eat Dog." While the album is most definitely a pop-metal album, with strong melodies and sing-along-choruses, it's muscular, and avoids the candy-ass fluff that was pervasive on the band's first two albums. While the band's first two albums pretty much followed the typical hair-metal AOR format, of having a few killer singles surrounded by fluff, "Dog Eat Dog" is pretty solid without any filler. Thus "Dog Eat Dog" is the band's most honest, aggressive, well-written album.
The rapid-fire, hard-hitting "Machine Gun" makes for a strong opener. "The Hole in my Wall" sounds like a more aggressive yet slowed down "Cherry Pie." While its sexual innuendo is obvious, it is nowhere near as cheesy as "Cherry Pie" and actually has some teeth. Lane shows his real talent with the outstanding "April 2031." With its Pink Floyd Wall-era haunting children's chorus and apocalyptic delivery, had "April 2031" been released today by a totally unknown band, it would surely be praised. The beautiful baled "Andy Warhol Was Right" sounds a bit like "I Saw Red," only this comes off more powerful and sincere. Its orchestration works nicely. "Bonfire" is an infectious, outstanding rocker. "The Bitter Pill" is another balled with cool snyths that could have been a huge hit had it only been released a few years prior. "Hollywood (So Far, So Good)" is a total rip-off of Jane's Addiction "Jane Says." While not nearly as good, Warrant's version is still effective. "All My Bridges are Burning" and "Quicksand" are both solid rockers. "Let it Rain" is comparable to Warrant's huge hit "Heaven," only this sounds less generic, more heartfelt. "Inside Out" is by far the heaviest song Warrant ever penned and would even make Megadeth or Anthrax proud. The hard-rocking, bittersweet "Sad Theresa" makes for a good closer.
Timing is what really hurt Warrant and "Dog Eat Dog" in particular. If Warrant had come out five years earlier, with "Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich" in 1984, "Cherry Pie" in '85, and "Dog Eat Dog" in 1989, it would have been a smash hit and several of its songs would have been hit singles and radio staples. But in 1992, Warrant didn't stand a chance, no matter how good their album was. The sad thing is when most people think of Warrant, if they remember them at all, they think of some cheesy hair-band, with white matching leather suits, or think of the ultra tacky "Cherry Pie" video. What they don't know is that Warrant was actually a really good band. Unfortunately, Warrant didn't actually reach their full potential until it was too late. It's no small wonder why "Dog Eat Dog" is generally considered by the Warrant faithful as the band's best album.
While Warrant's first two albums have recently been re-released and remastered with bonus songs, "Dog Eat Dog" did not get the same treatment. Unfortunately, "Dog Eat Dog" is now out-of-print and only available used. If you should see "Dog Eat Dog" at a used CD shop or at a church rummage sale, by all means pick it up. If you like 80s-style melodic hard-rock you won't be disappointed.