Classic hard rockers Tesla were one of those bands that reluctantly hitched a ride on the hair metal bandwagon of the late '80s, only to get bum-rapped on the early-'90s flip side when their career was undeservedly sunk alongside those flaming chunks of hairspray and mascara. Unable or perhaps unwilling to cope with culturally enforced grunge exile thereafter, the members of Tesla chose extinction instead, quietly going their separate ways after touring in support of their fourth studio album, 1994's understated Bust a Nut. The fact that they also resisted the temptation to join in the minor spat of pop-metal nostalgia heard in the late-'90s also speaks volumes about their true nature, and makes their eventual return with 2004's Into the Now all the more worth investigating. And sure enough, for the most part, Into the Now is a prototypical Tesla album: heavy, melodic, focused, and -- when in doubt -- understated. Indeed, like the songs that earned them millions in their heyday, new tracks like "Look @ Me" and "Heaven Nine Eleven" are perfect studies in reined-in virtuosity, their grooves and hooks ever spotlighting the essential strengths of the almighty song. The odd bit of synthesized drumbeats is the only visible concession to fashion (note its disappointing and pointless inclusion in the acoustic foot-tapper "What a Shame"), but thankfully, gets dropped from the menu as quickly as it was added. Elsewhere, "Words Can't Explain" locks into a pleasant Southern rock feel, "Caught in a Dream" is a heartwarming acoustic ballad for the ladies, and "Miles Away" is the album's grand, Led Zeppelin-by-way-of-Def Leppard mini-epic, its ample contrasts of light/shade and backdrop string arrangements eliciting flashbacks of "Kashmir" almost as much as they do "Die Hard the Hunter." Vocalist Jeff Keith is reliable as ever throughout, his voice sounding all the better for the nicotine ravages of time, while guitarists Frank Hannon and Tommy Skeoch resurrect their six-string harmonies in all their glory for the memorable "Mighty Mouse" and the decidedly psychedelic "Come to Me." In short, like virtually every Tesla album before it, Into the Now takes the back door to one's perception, unassumingly sneaking up on you with the realization "Hey! This is really good!" A classy comeback by a classy band, it's therefore practically guaranteed to please -- not wow -- aging fans with its time-warp sensibilities and authenticity of spirit.
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AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia