Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Old Head - Maximum Rock



“Did you talk to the guy Penfold?”
“You mean the wizened old metal head who hangs out down by the arts district?”
“Yeah, the old head.  Did you talk to him about the band?”
“I might have broached the subject.”
“Don’t play games with me Penfold!  You know I don’t like to joke around when we’re talking about the band man!”
“All right Gary, all right.  I’m sorry.  I know how much you care about this stuff.”
“Dang right I do!  So what did the old head say?”
“Well he was kind of vague when I asked him how we could achieve ‘maximum rock’.”
“What do you mean Pen?  Did he tell you what we need to do or not?”
“Yes and no man.  Yes and no.  He told me that knowledge without mileage amounts to nothing.  He said that several times.”
“And that helps us how?”
“I’m reasonably sure the old head was telling me in a roundabout way that we need to go on an epic quest around the world.  I asked him where a rock band could find righteous inspiration and he gave me a list of five locations to visit.”
“So what are we waiting for Penfold.  Let’s round up Billy and Steve and get going!”
*******
“This is it guys!  This is the first place the old head sent us to find!”
“Penfold, we haven’t even left our hometown yet.  I’ll grant you that I haven’t actually walked around down here, but I’ve literally driven past this lot every day for the past three years on my way to work.”
“For crying out loud Billy!  Why do you have to be such a pessimist?”
*******
“Penfold.  Pen.  Stop!  I can’t climb anymore.”
“Steve, we’re only a quarter of the way up the mountain.”
“I can see that Pen.  I just need a breather okay?”
“Yeah Penfold, I could use a break as well.”
“I can’t believe what I’m hearing!  Do you guys want to achieve maximum rock or not?!”
*******
“Penfold, we are LOST!”
“Calm down Gary.  I know exactly where we are.”
“We’re in the middle of the freaking desert Pen!”
“You’re not helping Steve.  NOT…HELPING.”
*******
“Oh man, oh man, oh man.  What was that?!  I’m sure I saw one this time Penfold.”
“Billy, calm down.  How many times do I have to tell you that alligators don’t live in this part of the swamp?  They can only be found several miles west of where we are right now.  We’re perfectly safe.  Tell him Gary.”
“He’s right Billy.  Billy?”
*******
“All right guys.  We just need to get over that next snow drift.”
“Penfold, you’ve said that about the last four snow drifts we’ve come across.”
“I know Steve.  I’m just trying to keep you guys motivated.”
“Steve’s right Penfold.  I’m cold and I want to go home.”
“Billy, are you still upset about that alligator attack?  I said I was sorry.  What more do you want?”
*******
“So what do you guys think about our journey together?  C’mon.  Tell me the truth.  Hit me!”
“I really don’t like you right now Penfold.”
“That was a total waste of time Penfold.”
“If I didn’t have this cast on my arm Penfold I’d be punching you in the face.”
“Good!  Fantastic!  The old head told me this trip would energize us and he was right!  Now all we need to do is channel this energy into our music and we will easily achieve maximum rock!!”

Some days waveriders.  Some days you just luck out.  A coin lands on the side you called out.  You find a dollar on the ground.  Etcetera.  What someone views as lucky is different from person to person.  That’s the way of the world.  For me, when I stumble across a killer new band I always feel lucky.  This music discovery can unfold in a number of ways.  Lady Luck smiled down on me most recently a couple of weeks ago while I was on Facebook.  Going through status updates on my wall I observed that my boss, Racer X, had ‘liked’ a post by Brutal Truth/Total Fucking Destruction drummer Richard Hoak.

Mr. Hoak wanted to know if there were any blogwriters/music journalists who might be interested in reviewing his latest musical offering to the world.  Said offering is the debut album by a band he drums in named Old Head.  Maximum Rock is the name of the album, and it was released on January 1st of this year (2012).  Not wanting to waste the man’s time I found the album on bandcamp for sampling purposes.  About forty seconds into the first song I was messaging Mr. Hoak as fast as my fingers could type!  You know immediately when you’ve stumbled upon something great, and I wasted no time throwing my hat into the ring for a chance to review this high octane music.  Thankfully I was granted permission, and this review began to take shape.

Old Head is an explosive quartet made up of Megadan Tumolo on vocals, Ryan Moll on guitar, Dan O’Hare on bass, and Richard Hoak on drums.  Essentially, Old Head is the membership of Total Fucking Destruction plus a dedicated singer.  I was excited about hearing Old Head in large part due to my fondness for TFD’s last album Hater, which I reviewed for The Ripple Effect several months ago.  That album is grindtastic!  More of the same would have been perfectly acceptable to me, but I’m very happy to report that Old Head is a remarkably different musical beast.  Whatever you may say about Maximum Rock, it is defiantly not a retread of past accomplishments.  Far from it.

What we have here waveriders are established grindcore musicians successfully trying their hand at music that is equal parts thrash metal and classic 1970s rock.  The combination feels oh so right, and it sounds utterly fantastic!  If you don’t believe that these two great tastes can be melded together look no further than album opener “Bleeder”.  This incendiary song starts ominously with a persistent bass drum thumping out the downbeat underneath a couple of grimy guitar/bass notes.  Then all hell breaks loose as the unhinged, hyper speed thrash element takes over.  The aggressively melodic sing along choruses mark the only times the song is brought back to earth.  Outside of that; blastoff!  The rest of the album doesn’t disappoint either.  Those looking for a weak song or lull in the album won’t be able to find one.  Maximum Rock is relentlessly superb!  This is thirty one minutes of your life well spent!  Well…if you want to rock that is.

Before I wrap this up I must make note of the three covers that Old Head perform on this album.  Normally I prefer to let a band’s original compositions do the talking, but these covers are truly exceptional.  The band completely reimagines Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young’s “Almost Cut My Hair”, evolving it from its acoustic roots into an absolute metal scorcher.  Same goes for Jethro Tull’s “Fat Man”.  The vocal melody remains the same, but the song takes on an entirely different attitude thanks to the boisterous guitar/bass playing and frenzied drumming.  Last but not least, the band’s cover of Black Sabbath’s “Rock ‘N’ Roll Doctor” is refreshing.  That’s right.  Refreshing.  If I told you a band had recorded a Sabbath cover I would bet my last dollar no one would have guessed it would be this song.  You all know I’m right.

Waveriders, Maximum Rock is an album that needs to be on your radar.  If you like thrash metal.  If you like 1970s hard rock.  If you like grindcore music and want to try something different this album is your ticket to nirvana!  Pick up a copy today, and rock on!

--Penfold



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