F U L L . R E V I E W S
Armored Saint guitarist Jeff Duncan tries his hand at playing frontman in an energetic band of brothers which includes siblings Shawn (drums) and Matt (bass), plus adopted musical brother Rowan Robertson (ex-Dio) on second lead guitar. And while it's no Revelation (the Saint's awesome millenial studio "comeback"), Explode does just that, with simple, infectious blue-collar hard rock/metal of a uniquely American sort. The title track sets the pace nicely, demonstrating one of two sounds this album oscillates between, an insistent, groove-based, metalized form of rock ‘n' roll that befits the album's hot rod-themed artwork (dig the nifty Duncan-Robertson Precision Tuning logo on the initial self-produced pressing!). When not pursuing this simple but effective formula, Explode meanders into an emotionally tense, moody musical no-man's land, inhabited by misbegotten but interesting tracks that somehow remind me of that depressing ‘90's rock sound that emerged in the wake of grunge (see the ponderous "This is What You Wanted" and the creepy "Long Hard Road to Lost"). "Cabin Fever," meanwhile, explores similar emotional terrain, but is more immediate, heavy and ornery--and not in a particularly pleasant way.
Where DC4 truly shines is on immediate, momentum-filled rockers like "Rock and Roll Disease," the punchy "God Complex" and the hilariously sleazy "Candy Caine." The quiet, resigned and fairly Spartan "Hate Parade" is a rather anti-climactic closer, and again, "Cabin Fever" is just a little too cantankerous for my tastes.
Still, overall, this is a solid effort from what initially looked to be a fairly inconsequential side project, with fairly strong, raw (if somewhat limited) vocal work to boot. Hopefully this album's proper issue on Chavis will mark the beginning of something that will go further, even though what I really want now is another Revelation-style motherload of metal.
(Update: Since I initially wrote this review, the band has announced what appears to be an amicable split from Chavis)
About this Writer:
Vinaya Saksena // Vinaya is either a writer who dabbles in guitar playing, or a guitar player who dabbles in writing. A Maximum Metal staffer since 2004, he has also served as a reporter for several newspapers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Although his obsession with music is such that it does not allow time for much else by way of hobbies, he also enjoys traveling, trivia, photography, British comedy and the occasional A-Team re-run.
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