F U L L . R E V I E W S
Genre: Hard Rock
Reviewer: Eric Compton
Avenue F 2004 Demo - 2004 --EC
A magic carpet ride of rock riffs
These young buckaroos formed Avenue F in 2002, naming the band after the street they practice on. The band's founding member and sole guitarist Mike Marino had been in a few bands around New Jersey before settling down with this young act. Backing Marino is vocalist Jack Kemple, bassist Vinnie Valdes, and drummer Mike Betkowski, who all combine to make up a fresh new rock band that people can finally get excited about. What do they have going for them? Actually several key ingredients, the most important being a solid rock attitude, a winning gameface that just wants to rock for rock's sake and in rock they do trust, showing off the ability to combine classic elements with today's soundtrack.
With opener "Suffer Unto Me", the band really mix it up, going out of the blocks with a heavy opening riff to get things started before settling down to a Tool/Perfect Circle vibe, but unlike Tool's turtle pace, Avenue F can speed it up, keeping memorable hooks at the forefront, and writing a decent chorus that is easy to snag and keep up with. This is fun stuff and beats the hell out of the angry vibes most of today's
bands focus on. Rock is supposed to be fun people, and Avenue F keeps that philosophy throughout these three tracks.
"Thin Ice" is a slower number, recalling the late 90s rock movement, maybe closer to Creed and Pear Jam, but more interesting than those acts. Ending number "I Don't Need You" is more straight up classic rock, bordering on everything from Jimi Hendrix to Cream. Marino proves he is a tremendous talent on the strings, strumming along where necessary but taking advantage of every opportunity to rip out a soaring lead. That type of thing really elevates this EP and keeps everything flowing nicely. I just wish there were more songs to hear. Kemple really has his own style behind the mic, not really sounding like anyone. He isn't necessarily a "safe singer", but his voice is strong and clean, which suits this band perfectly.
This is the band's newest material and before this release the group recorded a low-budget full length record simply called "Avenue F". That group of songs was more deeply etched in classic rock, while this new EP shows a modern side to the band. These guys are playing shows now, and are going to be hitting the studio again to record a full length album. Hopefully some of these tracks will see a bigger budget and get some airplay somewhere.
For those of you who are tired of the retro bands like Jet and White Stripes, check out Avenue F. On the other side of the tracks, if you are a mean metal head looking for a change of pace, hitch a ride down a different avenue and give these three songs a spin. It might be a much needed change in direction.
About this Writer:
Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has served as senior editor for MaximumMetal.com for nearly 10 years and is the author of the heavy metal book series--Denim & Letters. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia.
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