AUGUST 25th 2016
Review by Lana Muirhead
Starting off a new band with a lineup like Dunsmuir, the average Joe cannot call it anything but a supergroup. Consisting of Neil Fallon of Clutch on vocals, Dave Bone of The Company Band on guitar, Brad Davis of Fu Manchu on bass and ex-Black Sabbath drummer Vinny Appice, there’s really no other way to classify the group. But break it down to brass tacks and music tracks and that’s where the magic is or isn’t.
The self-titled album is a concept record and tells the tale of survivors of a shipwreck. The first track is “Hung On The Rocks”, which may tell what happened to the boat but screams metaphor as to how it got there in the first place. This song plays like a ‘metal for dummies’ guide but hits all the important elements of a classic
metal tune. There’s some eerie bass work toward the end that really drew me in and had me wondering what was to come next.
The following track, “Only Our Master”, is the first single off the album and so far has not been pulling in the people. Again, all the elements are there but it is so cookie cutter I was almost a little bored. Having said that, two songs really jumped at me as being stand-outs over the whole: “The Bats (Are Hungry Tonight)” and “Deceiver”. Both boasted faster tempos, some wicked shreds, and had me feeling frantic and panicky for the stranded. I was anxious thinking that the sinister forces were drawing nearer and there was nowhere to run.
Indeed these forces make their move in the epic “Orb of Empire” and command obedience. The moment is upon the men to take their stand or fall from grace. The rest of the songs, “What Manner of Bliss”, “…and Madness”, “Church of the Tooth”, “The Gate”, and closer “Crawling Chaos!” were so very much alike that they had my interest waning. Though as part of the storyline the songs are important, individually they fall short of what one may expect of such seasoned musicians.
There seems to be little risk and all kinds of playing it safe. Truly, the band sounds like their individual parts mashed together in a way that works, but does not necessarily do much for metal beyond towing the typical line. It’s mostly impossible to escape your singing voice so the fact that it sounds like a Clutch front-man singing is something that we the listeners would expect.
We do get the doom-y rhythm section reminiscent of the age of the Sabbath and the peppy yet crooning guitar lines that echo Bone’s role in The Company Band. Again: it works for Dunsmuir and the status quo of metal. Though the kracken is somewhat unleashed by Fallon in the creative lyrics, the band listens like four otherwise successful musicians getting together for the fun of it (and there’s nothing wrong with that!) The album is best listened to in full and as a concept rather than picking out a tune here and there, as it appears to have intended. The sound is raw and stripped and happily lacks any shred of overproduction. Now that I’ve heard it would I put it on repeat? Not likely but I haven’t lost any time running through it so all’s well in the metal world.