Self Destructo Records
Featured photo by Jeff Crespi Rocks
Written By Doug Walker
Speed rock is a tricky sub genre. It’s really too aggressive to be punk rock, but it’s generally too raw to be heavy metal. There are a handful of speed rock bands that walk a very fine line between the 2 major sub genres, but very few do it right.
This record nails it. It’s a departure from their earlier work, but it is a much more mature sounding record. You can hear how the members of the band have figured out how to work their influences into a cohesive overall sound, the years of extensive touring have paid off. These guys are locked in with each other on a whole different level with their newest body of work.
I’m a fervent believer that if you are going to have 2 guitar players in a band, they better both be on point, and they should never play the same thing for any extended period of time. The guitar work on this record is top notch. There’s some Thin Lizzy-esque dual guitar work, but with a bluesy southern U.S. 70s taste to it. The blend of crushing chainsaw riffing, combined with a very interesting choice of chords and chord structure, mixed with the exceptional riffing that is omnipresent throughout the record, and you end up with a record of guitar porn that is easy to get into even if you don’t care about the technicalities of guitar playing. I think my favorite aspect of the guitar work is that they are using overdrive and not distortion. To explain what that means without turning into a total music geek, that means they are using the way the amplifiers naturally break up when pushed too hard as opposed to using a process where you break the signal up digitally or with a signal processing effect. To put in in the simplest terms, it’s the difference between listening to a record and a CD. There’s more warmth, but less distortion. That means when it’s heavy, or blistering, or brutal…it’s because of the way the songs are written and played and not what gear is being used.
The rhythm section keeps it solid throughout. You can feel it in your gut when you listen to it…the way rock should be. As with every other rock record made since “…And Justice for All,” I’m going to complain that the bass isn’t as present as I’d like it to be. It’s there, and it’s locked in with the drums perfectly…but as good as their bass player is, I wish it was cutting through just a little bit more. That being said, the combination of the bass and drums are absolutely crushing.
In the Pantheon of Speed Rock, this album falls into Speedealer territory; Sleazy, raunchy, groovy, punishing…but where Against the Grain sets themselves apart is with some absolutely top level musicianship. Also, and it’s crazy to say this..but there is actual singing happening on this record. It’s a really nice change of pace from the over-the-top ultra masculine yelling that usually takes place in fast/heavy music. There’s a much higher level of musicality to the vocals than you would expect to hear from a punk/speed/rock band.
12 songs of unrelenting rock from the Motor City’s reigning lords of Speed Rock,
available on vinyl August 18 through Self Destructo Records, pre orders are available now at Shop Self Destructo