Thursday, June 22, 2017

Album Review: 42 Decibel - Overloaded

Rock and roll is, in essence, about pushing the limits. It started out by taking the music of the day and making it louder, heavier, and more obnoxious to the older generations. There's nothing new about trying to be more than everyone else. But there is something worrying when this new 42 Decibel album comes along with an explanation that the band recorded it by trying to push the equipment into the red line. Even without hearing a note, I was conjuring up images of distorted recordings and unlistenable songs. That's what happened to Baroness' "Purple", which was utterly ruined by a hatchet-job production. Putting that in my mind before listening was not a good idea.

Thankfully, they don't take things to that extreme. The sound is rough around the edges, but never to the point of distractions. The guitars have that slightly swampy tone that an under-powered amp being pushed to its limits gets, which is slightly fuzzier than the music needs. If they cleaned it up just a bit, there would be more bite to the riffs, which I think would make things hit just a bit harder. It's counter-intuitive, but sometimes turning down the gain makes the guitars sound heavier.

But production aside, the real issue to have with this album lies in the songwriting. Simply put, 42 Decibel aren't delivering at the level they need to. There are a few decent riffs, and the vintage sound is good, but there are no vocals or melodies here that are worth listening to. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but I'm failing to see the point of taking this kind of music, and more or less screeching atonally over the top of it. The vocals aren't good at all, and what is being sung is boring as well.

You would think a rock band would take one of two approaches; either have big melodies like an AOR band, or lock in with the riffs to drive simple hooks the way that Ozzy did with Black Sabbath. Instead, the eschew any rhyme or reason, and instead caterwaul completely separate from the rest of the band. It's such a waste of any potential, and it just strikes me as being lazy.

Because of that, I can't say that "Overloaded" approaches being a good album. The vocals are such a distraction that there's no chance the songs can overcome them. This is the kind of record that gets made because someone has the idea music that sounds like the 70s will sell, but they don't have any idea how to make that kind of music. "Overloaded" is anything but. It's underwhelming.

No comments:

Post a Comment