Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Album Review: Red Sun Rising - Polyester Zeal

Over the last few years, one of the trends I've enjoyed is the revival of classic rock, if not in spirit, than at least in sound. I've long been a proponent of the organic sound that vintage rock carried, but I have to admit to being utterly disappointed with how bands have squandered such an easy target. There have only been a small handful of bands that did it the right way, and even they have faltered. Blues Pills made a record that I didn't like in the slightest earlier this year, and Graveyard, the shining light of this entire genre, just announced their end. So, hearing about another band that is trying to revive the spirit of classic rock is welcoming, but carries with them the expectations of a string of failures.

Let's get the first thing out of the way, when I say classic rock, in this case I mean the ethos, not the sound. This is an album with a fully modern sheen to the production, with big, punchy guitars that come through with power. This is not an album trying to sound like the old days.

But like most bands, there's a struggle to find the right approach to the music. "Amnesia" is a beautiful song, with a nice bluesy riff and a melody that is warm and inviting. There's some Stone Temple Pilots to the sound, but there's also something timeless about it. It would fit in on classic rock stations as well as 90s rock radio. It's great, but it comes after "Push", which opens the album with an irritating presence that is a very poor way to welcome me to the experience. "The Otherside" is even better, hitting all the right marks. It's exactly the type of rock music I love, and that should play well with a wider audience. It's got swagger and heart, but warmth and melody as well. It's something that would sound good in a smoky bar, but also would invite the fans to sing along in an arena.

An interesting question comes to mind here: if you're a band in your 20s, is 'classic rock' to you the bands that came about in the 90s? That's the interpretation I get from listening to this record, and it's one that I don't mind at all. That was an underrated time for mainstream rock music. The bands from then might not have had the lasting fame that the 70s bands did, but they created a time when rock music could flourish, and perhaps only now are we seeing the generation that grew up worshiping them. The last ten years could have been the product of people growing up in the wasteland of the 80s, and we're due for a rock revival.

That's my hope, and Red Sun Rising gives me hope. Once we get through that opening track, the remainder of the album is fantastic rock that takes me back to my younger days. They've found a sound that flat-out works, and hearing these songs one after the next is incredibly impressive for a young band. By the time the minor-key chorus of "Unnatural" hits, I'm almost left wondering why I haven't been hearing more hype for this band and album.

I'm not going to say this record is perfect, because there are two tracks here that don't seem to fit in with the rest of the record ("Push" and "Awake"), but the majority of the album is excellent. I complain a lot about the state of modern rock, but if more of it sounded like Red Sun Rising, I wouldn't have much to complain about.

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