After spending much of 1981 involved in a successful tour, Nazareth returned to the studio with a newfound sense of vigor the next year. The album they produced was 2XS, an outing that stands alongside Malice in Wonderland as one of their finest achievements during the 1980s. Although its sound goes for the sonic sleekness of AOR, it does not skimp on the hard rock elements. For instance, "Love Leads to Madness" boasts the kind of sumptuous power ballad melody that helped it become a radio favorite but is also layered with plenty of surprisingly heavy power chords. 2XS also finds the group cranking out some of their most furious rockers since the days of Expect No Mercy and No Mean City: "Boys in the Band" is guitar-fuelled declaration of intent that moves at a head-spinning double-time tempo, and "Gatecrash" is a party rocker that swings with the raucous verve of early hits like "Bad Bad Boy." Another surprising element of 2XS is the way it works a surprising new wave element into the group's style: "You Love Another" is a creepy, synthesizer-drenched breakup ballad that would have fit in fine on one of the Cars' early albums, and "Preservation" infuses the Nazareth rock sound with a churning bassline and burbling electronic sounds. The end result of all these elements is an album that creates an effective and personalized fusion of hard rock and AOR elements. It may not contain enough of either style for purist fans of those genres, but Nazareth fans and adventurous rock fans will find plenty to enjoy on 2XS.
by Donald A. Guarisco