I often start my reviews out with confessions, so why should this one be any different? Confession: I am not a metalhead. In general I am puzzled by the appeal of pounding guitars and screaming vocals. Eventually all that seemingly unprovoked anger (why so angry, kids from the suburbs?) starts to drive me insane.
That is why I was so taken aback by LoveSpreader, the sophomore release from Fort Wayne’s own RP Wigs. I was told by an esteemed colleague that these whatzup Battle of the Bands contenders had put out a pretty bleeping great disc, and so I listened. I marveled. I learned.
The album begins with a serious bang in “Slam Brady,” whose driving riffs contrast nicely with frontman Korey Zehr’s Ozzy-like vocals. The song has movements. Seriously. There’s a fair share of screaming, but the lyrics are deep and rich, and Zehr’s voice, which sometimes borders on the melodic, sends the track into Black Sabbath territory. He can go from sighing to singing to screaming in a few seconds, and the accomplished guitar work of Cory and Chris Johnson on lead and rhythm and Dustin Riley on bass had me wondering what was so bad about metal after all. This stuff is transcendent, impossible to classify and rare. This stuff is, in a dark, heavy, subversive way, beautiful.
Track No. 2 is “Smokescreen Eyes,” a definite screamer that is propelled into a whole new direction by a funky, progressive guitar line. It’s followed by “Foff” which showcases drummer Landon Hapner’s smart way with the sticks and has a spooky, almost romantic feel. My favorite song on the disc, “The Clock is Running,” had me pressing “repeat” and risking a speeding ticket on the highway. Other highlights of this incredible effort include “Devil’s Got a Grip,” “Peace Over Shotgun” (can’t argue with that idea) and “Sleep.”
There were a few tunes I had to fast forward through simply because they scorched my too-sensitive, folk-girl ears, but that’s obviously not a straight-up criticism. I know many metal fans – my esteemed colleague included – live for that bittersweet ear burn.
By now it’s a tired line to say that, while listening to a local product, one is struck by the fact that it doesn’t sound local at all. It’s also insulting to people like Dan Middleton at Digitracks who lent his considerable producing talents to LoveSpreader. So I won’t say it. I will say that this album is proof positive of RP Wigs’ estimable musicianship and almost scary grasp of what it takes to make a great album. Not just a great metal album, but an album that music lovers of all types will want to lend to friends (but only good friends, of course, the kind of friends you know won’t klepto your music).
Want to be a part of RP Wigs’ mission to spread the metal love? Mark Friday, February 11 on your calendar. That’s when the LoveSpreader CD release party will get going at CS3 starting at 10 p.m. I, for one, plan on being there, and I’m going to leave my earplugs at home. (Deborah Kennedy)
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