The Shrine kick up hardcore, riffy thrash goodness on hellaciously fun ‘Bless Off’

ShrineWho can’t use a pick-me-up on a Tuesday? It’s still early in the week, and there’s a lot of things that have to be done before it’s time to relax again, so having something to kick you into gear can be a good thing. One’s coming for you today from California.

You can’t possibly put on “Bless Off,” the new record from The Shrine, and not feel a boost of energy going through you. Every second of this record sounds like it is aggressively trying to kick your ass, as these three guys pound through classic metal and hard rock, vintage punk and hardcore, and even a little doom and sludge on these 11 songs that are chock full of guitar goodness and sonic demolition. If you’re into Thin Lizzy, Motorhead, Coliseum, and early Metallica, these guys are for you. It’s also a really fun record, one that’ll sound even better with the warmer months approaching here in the States as backyard barbecues become a more common thing, kids take to their bikes and boards, and you need loud, spirited rock to make what you’re doing even more memorable. The Shrine’s music definitely would serve.

11183_JKTThe three members of The Shrine–guitarist/vocalist Josh Landau, bassist Courtland Murphy, and drummer Jeff Murray–formed in 2008, started playing around, and eventually caught the ear of former Black Flag bassist/songwriter/founding member Chuck Dukowski, who got them going even further by producing their earlier recordings. In fact, they recorded a track using Bukowski-penned lyrics originally intended for Black Flag song on “Bless Off.” More on that in a bit. They released their debut full-length “Primitive Blast” in 2012 on Tee Pee and started playing tours with like-minded bands such as Red Fang, Fu Manchu, Earthless, and the mighty Dinosaur Jr. On “Bless Off,” everything is amplified bigger than ever, from their attitudes, the rock, the vocals, the sneering, everything. It’s meant to be played at top volume. Anything else would be an insult.

“Destroyers” is a pretty fitting opening salvo, with Landau warning, “We ride the streets,” like they’re bringing Armageddon behind them, as the band settles into a filthy groove and eventually really kicks up dust as the song reaches its end. “Worship” is fast and blistering, with a thrashy gallop, noise, and some rough punk rock edges, while “Tripping Corpse” has some cool, bluesy riffs, the band trucking full speed ahead, and a simple, infectious chorus that’s easy to yell back. “The Duke” is the track with the Dukowski-penned lyrics, and the guys do a fine job injecting some of the Black Flag spirit into the song, as it’s catchy and swaggering. “Nothing Forever” has some attitude-laden thrash and hardcore spilled into the song, with shouting vocals and more infectious melodies. This one will wreck your neck.

The title track has some nice Southern rock-style guitar work figured into the mix, with a pace that can maul you, and the lyrics bite hard with sarcasm, as Landau taunts, “That gun in your hand makes you feel like a man.” “On the Ground” should sound great when your belly’s full of beer and you want to shout incoherent things at people. It’s packed with cowbell goodness and shuffling melodies, but as the song progresses, it gets mean, doomy, and punishing. “No Penalty” is a blast and full of memories of youthful damage-causing and no consequences as a result, and they treat that with some abrasive fun. “Spit in My Face” also has a Black Flag essence, with Landau poking, “One of these days I’m going to dance on your grave.” “Napalm” has that killer Thin Lizzy feel to it, with a classic hardcore edge with some classic rock guitar work layered in for good measure. The closer “Hellride” is a final blast of madness, with some great riffs, more cowbell, blazing insanity, and Landau barking what could be their mantra with, “We are road dogs!” Great finish to a fun album.

“Bless Off” might not be a record that revolutionizes heavy music, and for those who take themselves a little too seriously, the vibe here might go over that audience’s heads. But if you want a seriously rowdy, kick-ass rock record you can put on and get your creative juices flowing, you won’t do much better than this second album from The Shrine. Even when they’re pissed off they sound like they’re having a blast, and it’s impossible not to get caught up in the energy. They may not be pretty, they may not be proper, but The Shrine always gets the job done right and have a crushing second album to prove that point over and over again,

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