Monday, December 7, 2015

Album Review: Junkstars - This Means War

As we wind down the year, we have the opportunity to look back and give a chance to some records that we weren't able to get to at the time of their release, since there is too much music out there for us to get to everything (I realize how that sounds like a first-world problem). Some records, even ones we mean to get to, slip through the cracks. That happened with this album, which suffered the misfortune of coming out at a time when I was so thoroughly engrossed in others that it completely slipped my mind. But there's nothing wrong with being a bit late to the party, so let's take a look at what Junkstars have for us.

We open up with the natural theme for the Pittsburgh Steelers, "Kill The Ravens", which is the kind of dirty rock and roll that has one foot firmly in the Motorhead camp, but then ups the ante with a chorus that bends in a more melodic direction than Lemmy usually cares for. The guitars have a bit too much fuzz on them for my liking, but the song is a solid entry that gets things started the right way.

"Romance Of Death" is a more raucous song, taking a pass on the melody, and actually reminding me of the Foo Fighters' attempts at proving their rock credentials. While they thankfully don't resort to as much screaming, the song runs through its riffs without giving us much to hear other than the energy. It's a tact that has worked for bands like Motorhead, but they have the charisma to pull it off, and not many bands do.

We get a few of those style tracks here, in the form of "Monster Blood" and "Snakebites". They're inoffensive, but don't really have much working in their favor. "Old Mans Dead House" is a better track, with verses that swing like an Irish pub band. That feeling is both interesting and enjoyable, which makes it a letdown when the chorus can't kick things up yet another notch. "Unrighteous Grave" finally does that, using the punk basis to up the ante and crank out a song that is vital. The record actually ends on a great note, with the last three songs all throwing that little bit of melody back into the mix that makes the music go down easier.

I don't want to come down hard on Junkstars, because there's nothing wrong with "This Means War". It's a fine little punk/rock hybrid album, but it wanders off a bit too much for my taste in the middle, which is tough to excuse on a record that takes half an hour to reach its conclusion. It's a record that has a few pretty good songs, and a few that aren't quite as good. Hasn't punk always been like that?

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