Saturday, May 14, 2011

Rock & Roll Submarine - Urge Overkill - 2011

Rock & Roll SubmarineHow can 16 years seem at once an eternity and the blink of an eye? It depends on your perspective. Waiting for a follow-up to Exit the Dragon, it's definitely the former. Pushing play on Rock & Roll Submarine, the latter. Urge Overkill never left, after all. They were just off recording what may well be the best damn straight-up no-frills rock and roll album in years.

If Exit the Dragon was one last, late-night round at the darkest club in town, Rock & Roll Submarine is a weary - yet ragged and ready - morning after. And what a new dawn it is. From the very first note, Rock & Roll Submarine is invigorating in its immediate presence as gimmick-free rock. Never too clever for its own good, as the Urge of old sometimes wandered, it's sly and wry without being sarcastic.

If Rock & Roll Submarine has an obvious fault (and God knows naysayers will be seeking one), it's the sequencing. This thing is heavily top-loaded. Openers "Mason/Dixon" and "Rock & Roll Submarine" deliver on the promise of the pre-released teaser and third track, "Effigy." Guitars crash and swagger throughout while Eddie "King" Roeser and Nash Kato deliver powerful vocals that, if anything, have improved over the years.  Hooks, riffs and dynamics comparable in effectiveness to the Foo Fighters' recent trimuph abound. This thing is a winner, goddammit, but it shows off all its guns a little too early. "Poison Flower," an otherwise decent mid-tempo number, stalls the momentum built by the insurmountable opening quarter.

from - photo by Jeffrey Millies
"Little Vice" resumes the ferocity but we slow to a walk, albeit one with swagger, with the ponderous "Thought Balloon." The pace now set a little slower, "Quiet Person" ambles along effectively and "She's My Ride" would be a college radio hit if such a thing existed anymore. The album closes strong with the stomping "Niteliner" and "Touch to a Cut" is so slanted entirely toward a new - and great - Urge Overkill sound that it comes as a shock when the track ends and the album with it. Thirty-nine minutes never passed so quickly. We need more

Aside from the core of Kato and Roeser, Urge Overkill circa 2011 features Brian "Bonn" Quast on very powerful percussion and Mike "Hadji" Hodgkiss assuming bass duties (whose contributions could have been beefed up in the mix). There are currently a mere handful of live dates on the calendar and I, for one, am praying they take this record and their incredible legacy on to road for an extended tour.

I honestly don't know how long it was in the making but Rock & Roll Submarine is no over-tinkered Chinese Democracy. It's raw, it's rough around the edges and it's alive. What have Urge Overkill been doing all these years?  Whatever it is, I hope that they keep it up and I pray to God it isn't 2027 before we hear from them again.
Following @UrgeOverkill on Twitter led me to a copy with neat-o autographed artwork from Newbury Comics

1 comment:

  1. Spot on review - a great, straight-ahead rocker, but the finish is disappointing. It's over before you know it.I wanted another "Digital Black Epilogue"!

    Anyway, looking forward to seeing them in Montreal in July.