Northern Kind
Northern Kind

by Jason Hoffman Northern Kind

One wonders if the members of Northern Kind have to wear welder's gloves when they play, as their instruments surely burst into flames. Their version of updated classic rock literally boils over with the hot magma of unadulterated rock played with the kind of volume and energy the good Lord intended.

This power trio (with major emphasis on "power") is comprised of Vince Stringfield on vocals and guitar, Bill Mramer on bass and Jesse Marshall on drums and vocals. Their goal is to combine the driving classic rock of the early 70s with the best of modern rock bands like Nirvana, Blind Melon and Stone Temple Pilots. From the tracks on their self-titled album, their second collection of in-your-face tunes, they have surely succeeded in capturing the pure energy of their live performances, this time recording their pyromaniac antics at Sweetwater Studios.

A classic example of their blended sound can be found on the opening track "How Many Times." Although in 4/4, there is an awkward, yet rocking Zeppelin feel to the rhythm that adds just the right amount of radio-friendly groove before dropping into a pure Black Sabbath instrumental section. All the while Stringfield belts out intense vocals in a powerful voice that was designed for this kind of raw rock. Likewise, "Cyanide" is a relentless assault on your ears with dark Sabbath riffs that merge with the blues and some surprising Rush-influenced meter changes compliments of Marshall. Puppy-sterilizing bass work against the wall of sound known as "Keep Rolling" reveals Mramer's uniquely aggressive bass style, as does the intense funkfest known as "Got a Question" and the careening explosion of "Speedo."

Cooling things off a bit in "Geese In Hand," the band adds some nice vocal harmonies before turning the heat up with complex interplay between the guitar and bass similar to early Zeppelin tracks, ending with a scorching but brief guitar solo. "Rational" stands out for its clean guitar tone and sparse instrumentation, allowing the deserving vocals to take the spotlight. "One for the Road" throws in the surprising element of tastefully done symphonic strings, resolving in a triumphant guitar melody that borrows from The Beatles' "Dear Prudence." The album closes with "See," which is dirty, nasty, and funky- in other words it's pure Northern Kind and a perfect example of the raw energy that seems to effortlessly erupt from this band.

Northern Kind is energy personified. This outstanding power trio truly is greater than the sum of its parts, proving the sophomore slump myth for what it is. If you like rock, modern or classic, do yourself a favor and expose yourself to this combustible trio -but be sure to wear your asbestos earmuffs.

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