“They have taken this gem out the rubble and polished it to brilliance.”
(Editor: This is so odd – this was one of our most read album reviews ever with well over 1,000 Likes on Facebook, but the damn Facebook widget got stuck on 4 Likes. Rest assured Phil, this one was pretty damn popular – well done!)
I have a secret. While I may appear to be a hard core, heavy metal junkie on the outside, one of my guilty pleasures is indie/alt rock. When I’m not banging my head to some good, old thrash metal, or moshing to some modern hardcore, my foot is tapping along to the retro sound of indie rock. Bands like Weezer, The Black Keys, and The Struts all sate my hunger for this blend of music, and since hearing Blackout Balter’s offering, they too will be on the menu.
Blackout Balter is a quartet based out of Cambridge, Mass., whose good fortune of knowing The Killers’ guitarist and co-founder, Dave Keuning, got them the chance to record their debut at The Killers’ Las Vegas studio, along with Keuning being featured in some of the EP’s tracks. They have been playing any gig they can be booked for, delivering the wonderful gift of their music to all that will hear it. I know, after listening to it myself, that I hope their touring brings them to central Florida so we can enjoy a live performance, and I think you will feel the same way after hearing Twist & Bend.
While “Heavy Hand” was the song that captured my attention, “Marionette” is the first one on the album, and features a beat that will leave you unable to keep your feet still, progressive power chords, and a perfect blend of ethereal backing vocals and electronic sounds. Singer Phil Cohen introduces the listener to his impressive range of singing styles in just under four minutes during this catchy intro.
Track number two is titled “Goodbye Cambridge”, and sounds as though Cohen and gang have poured some of their personal experiences into this song. It has a bittersweet sort of vibe to it, in juxtaposition to the peppy synth effects they open with. This is one of the tracks that Keuning is on, adding his six-stringed mastery to the musical blend.
Following that is “Everything Becomes Mechanical”, which is a fast-paced retro-sounding take on the mundanity of a relationship gone sour, during which one must drag themselves through the motions of being together anymore. The drums remind me of those that spur men on into battle, while the guitar and vocals have a wispy, reverberating effect to them, which helps communicate the morose feeling of the song.
“Hello Operator” comes next with a surf-rock riff, along with peppy percussion, and upbeat vocals. Two thirds of the way through is a classic guitar solo that even the legendary shredder Dick Dale would be proud of. The song is heavily distorted and very rich with sound. Very tasty overall.
The song that drew me to this group is after that. “Heavy Hand” featuring Dave Keuning is a radio-ready anthem with a singalong chorus and epic solos. I really have a hard time explaining how good this song is. You must simply hear it for yourself. This is the track that will propel them to stardom and win them awards.
The last song is “Edison”, which sounds very different from the others on the album. It has a fast, punk vibe, but one mixed with an older sound, like early rock and roll produced by Jerry Lee Lewis or Little Richard. It sounds like a B-side for a Weezer song. That is the best way I can describe it.
Overall the EP is awesome. With Dave Keuning and producer Robert Root’s (The Killers, Imagine Dragons) mentoring and technical know-how, they have taken this gem out the rubble and polished it to brilliance. I expect to see great things come out of this band in the future, and to hear them as a regular staple on rock radio before too long. Perhaps on Cretin’s new Spotify station:
The band has no official tour dates as of yet, but I hope to see them in Orlando in the near future. Their website has info about them, links to the music and more. Check out Twist & Bend here and buy this album!
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