Written by Jay Snyder, posted by blog admin
Los Angeles’ based hard rockers Slow Burning Car are back with their 4th release, Defection. Featuring a thick, chunky sound with an emphasis on riffs and infectious choruses, the group draw influences from 90s guitar rock, pop punk and as a result end up with a tough grooving attack that’s somewhere in the ballpark of Nirvana, Chevelle, the Foo Fighters, Incubus and even a little bit of Helmet’s staccato crunch.
Opener “Alpha Duplicor” strikes fast and fierce with locked-on snare fills, throbbing bass lines and the twin guitar assault of Jesse Damon and Tommy Marcel. The explosive, granite thick riffs present driving grooves that whip into frenetic leads, harmonic counterpoints and wraparound solos that keep the hooky, fleet-footed aggression always in your face with little let up. Lead vocalist/bassist Troy Spiropoulos has a voice that delicately balances anger with melody, resulting in a well-tempered delivery that’s a perfect match for the music. Up-tempo and relishing a catchy 3-chord rush, “Soul Crimes” hovers between a pop-punk/grunge with huge melodic choruses and simplistic yet punchy and aggressive lead guitar trade-offs as both Damon and Marcel are credited with lead and rhythm guitar. Adam Idell’s thudding, heavily syncopated tom/snare transitions lends “The Orb” a bruising intro that give way to a varied vocal performance meshing gruff, Mike Patton-esque stream of consciousness, glistening high-register melody and quirky, auto-tuned back up harmonies. Influences can be felt from Faith no More, Incubus, Queens of the Stone Age’s robo-stoner rock and even Bad Religion as the wall of riffs launch into wailing punk rock solos.
“Devil in the Room” turns its namesake into an instantly memorable chorus with the dueling vocal styles again making use of alien vocoder support vocals while incendiary power chord riffs and pulsing rhythms refuse to lay off the throttle. Troy unleashes a buoyant, walking bass groove in “The Sunday Derby’s” brazen build-up that sees Idell laying into his kit with sheer reckless abandon. Thanks to spitfire vocals (with a rousing segment of megaphone enhanced, auctioneer styled spoken word), a ferociously high-octane polyrhythmic percussive stomp and psychedelically-kissed hard rock guitar work this composition is an easy album standout that presents a metallic, unpredictable twist to traditional pop-punk structuring. Grungy punk with big, bright uplifting guitar riff/lead shakedowns played out atop palm-muted rhythmic churns is the order of the day on the single-worthy “You Can’t Stay Here” gives early 90s Offspring a run for their money in the hook department.
Taking the record for a left-turn “Bedtime” is a gorgeous acoustic strummer that nary rises above a whisper, flowing directly into the folky, similarly aligned “Chrysanthemum.” An even stranger composition, the oddly titled “Polar Warden” is a psychedelic drone piece brimming with sampled dialogue, opaque bass grooves, decaying noise guitar, instrumental feedback and all sorts of warped keyboards and guitar pedal effects. It’s unlike anything else on the album and is a deep, lushly constructed piece that touches on Pink Floyd’s oddball experiments. Closer “Clouds” couldn’t have been a better choice for a finale; employing a progressive structure that alternates between gargantuan Sabbath riffs and tom-tom heavy, noodle-y guitar freakouts with heavy reverb laid over the vocals casting off some serious 70s prog-rock atmosphere.
Defection is an excellent album with fine songwriting and some superb instrumental bits. It’s the work of a well-seasoned band that knows the strength and value of each individual member’s contribution. Slow Burning Car is simply a fantastic modern rock group that delivers the good all across their 4th impressive release.