A lot can change for a band over four years, especially one whose members occupy other groups. Feelings can change, life gets in the way, and musical interests evolve, so when it comes to sitting back at the table to create, who knows what’s going to come out of it, and if it’s different, is that a good thing?
Surely some of that had to be going through the heads of the members of Doomriders, the band led by Converge bassist Nate Newton, and when it came time to work on their new record “Grand Blood,” the follow up to 2009’s tremendous “Darkness Comes Alive,” it must have been a curious and fruitful period for the band. They sustained a member change, with new drummer Q coming on board, and Newton himself went through some personal trials and tribulations (the story in the current issue of Decibel certainly can flesh out what’s gone on in his life) that profoundly affected him. So with all of those factors coming into play, would it result in favorable artistic results coming from this band, or would the developing tastes and all of that chaos make them miss their mark?
One visit with “Grand Blood” should be enough to answer that question for you, and any worries should easily fade away. The record is decidedly more rock and roll that what they produced in the past (not that that element ever was truly missing), and they have a new spark and energy that’s different from what they showed on “Darkness.” The riffs are meaty and chewy, the band hits hard but always makes sure you get up OK, and the ride is a raucous, bumpy adventure, but one that ultimately should put a smile on your face. Yes, there are dark moments, as you might expect, but the music feels like it’s trying to overcome any negativity that built up and is showing you can rise again and fight another day, your crushed heart be damned.
As noted, Newton remains the guy in front of the band, with his guitar work and vocals leading the way. You’ll probably notice his vocals have matured quite a bit, and while he’s still totally up for tossing out raspy yelps and shouts, he’s also singing more directly than ever before. At some points, the shouting is kept to a minimum, and it’s a real positive for the music and suits it perfectly. We mentioned Q (Magic Circle and heavily underrated Clouds), who joins the fold that also includes guitarist Chris Pupecki (Cast Iron Hike) and bassist Jebb Riley (Disappear), who round out this muscular unit that sounds like they’re continually figuring out their sound and finding the right way to get across where they are in their journey. This 11-track mauler is proof of that, and it’s hellacious fun.
Following a short, doomy intro track, the band blasts into “New Pyramids,” built from noisy riffs, grit, mud, and energy, giving you an early dose of the rock and roll party they’ve brought along with them. “Mankind” has fluttery lead guitar parts and a sinister melody, and the chorus is in your face and easily memorable, with Newton shouting, “Lost our purpose/Made it worthless.” It’s a dark sentiment, but it’s one you might find yourself shouting back. The title cut feels loopy and chunky, with a muddy swagger and more darkness coming from Newton when he howls, “Give me purpose or let me die.” It’s a really fun song, and eventually it disappears into the atmosphere. “Bad Vibes” just kicks your ass, with a speedy rock sentiment, throaty growls, and a pace that should whip crowds into a frenzy live. “Dead Friends” is another that seems like it’s a little too close to home, as Newton recalls misfortune that befell people close to him, unleashing his agitation and anger on the fiery, simple chorus.
“Death in Heat” brings back the sludge, as well as some penetrating drone, and that dissolves into a doom-heavy, slow-driving mauler that’s one of the heaviest tracks on the record and one of the most dangerous. “We Live in the Shadows” kicks off with melodies that are damn near black metal in feel, but then it starts chugging and heading toward punk and hardcore territory, with Newton unleashing some positivity in the murk by insisting, “We carry on!” “Gone to Hell” has a different feel to it, as Newton lets his natural clean singing voice emerge, and it’s a new, more mainstream side of the band (not in a bad way) that could help Doomriders find a larger audience that they deserve. “Back Taxes” brings frustration back into the mix, and who can’t relate to the idea of struggling and pushing to improve your life only to have someone behind your back waiting for their cut? The song’s abrasive and punishing, bringing forth that nagging sense of debt. Closer “Father Midnight” lets everything burn to the ground, with more doom rising up and bubbling over, throaty screams spilling from Newton’s mouth, and the band later slipping into a destructive, yet trippy, section where they let emotions rise up, only let them melt down again.
Doomriders are back in fine form and earthquaking shape, and the tweaks they made to their sound certainly are to their–and their listeners’–benefit. “Grand Blood” is one of those records you want to grab when shit has hit the fan, you’re beyond frustration, and you need to find an outlet where you can blow off some steam. Doomriders sound like they did just on this album, and it resulted in their most infectious music to date.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/DOOMRIDERS/53771008100
To buy the album, go here: http://www.deathwishinc.com/estore/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.deathwishinc.com/