Death Valley Driver showcases guitar rock, KOZA puts the pedal to the metal
Death Valley Driver
Death Valley Driver
(Available on Bandcamp)
The Death Valley Driver EP was recorded back in 2007, and the band technically no longer exists, so why a review now? There are a few reasons. The EP has just been re-released on a European record label, the songs formed the early basis of the current “kick ass and take names” band River City Hustlers, and now it is available for free download to anyone and everyone.
Track one, “Almost as Blue as Your Eyes” is as jaunty and upbeat a rock-and-roll tune as any, but after a moment one is quickly subsumed by the punk music the lies at its heart. Not entirely punk, not entirely pop, the song is satisfyingly somewhere in between. The guitar work is especially nice.
“Ya Know Ya Like It” kicks off with the same tasty guitar parts but then throws in a piano for good measure, which gives the tune an undeniably classic feel, akin to the ’70s-era Rolling Stones. If anything, I’d have liked to hear the piano featured a bit more on this track; it’s a great addition to the instrumentation.
“You Have Come Too Late” is another chunky, guitar-driven track that combines good, old-fashioned rock-and-roll with the kind of clever lyricism that is the hallmark of these musicians.
“Don’t Mistake This For Love” continues on in the same vein, cementing the band’s status as some of the best “’70s-style” guitar rock around, essentially being what most people hear in their heads when someone says “rock-n-roll.”
“Duct Tape and Silence” is the final track on the EP, and seemingly the black sheep of the family. This might be because of the opening conversation between bass and cowbell but more likely is just a symptom of the overall “heaviness” of the track, easily the heaviest on a compilation that is otherwise light and nimble. That’s not a bad thing at all, more like the prize in a Crackerjack box and certainly a sign of where the band was headed.
Simply put, if you’re a fan of the River City Hustlers (who are scheduled to play at this year’s Riverbend Festival), this EP is a fascinating look into the evolution of that group and certainly worthwhile as a stand-alone effort.
For your free download and a look into the pre-history of one of Chattanooga’s premier bands, go to www.deathvalleydriverforever.bandcamp.com/music
(Available on Bandcamp)
Chock-full of hardcore goodness, KOZA’s self-titled debut EP is nine tracks long and beautifully showcases the range of the band. The four-piece band rocks a style best described as a touch of All Things Metal, demonstrating elements of thrash, hardcore, nu metal, grunge, punk and even psychedelia.
“Take Up the Serpent” is one of only three tunes that make it past the three-minute mark and one of only two that make it past four. While most of the songs are best served by their short, punchy presentation, “Take Up the Serpent” utilizes the extra time to “explore the space” with a fade-in intro straight from the ’70s that segues in to a bridge that more closely resembles Primus.
Track two, “Hoof,” is just good, old-fashioned mosh pit material (back in my day we called it slam dancing, and we LIKED it that way). “March of the Snails,” the third offering on the disc, opens with a positively Pink Floyd vibe that gives way to Korn-esque nu metal around the 30-second mark.
“Death Rattle” is a personal favorite, a song that starts slow and stays slow for most of its duration, yet manages to use that to good effect by building tension to the point that both song and listener are ready to explode by the end. “Tsunami” is another slow-burner that ultimately satisifies.
“The Silent Bleed the Same” is both the shortest song in the compilation and the only one I would designate “medium tempo.” The inclusion of this song at this point in the track list gives the EP a flavor of “concept album” which, given the chance to expand upon the themes presented, it would surely be.
“Perpetrator” is another favorite, if only for its menacing intro, which evokes memories of Dokken back when they were still a thing. It is an ironic circumstance when an avowed metal band sounds their most dangerous when they are at their quietest, but “Perpetrator” makes this point effortlessly.
“Stench of Desire” is the final track on the disc. It is the longest track and quite likely the most dynamic in range. Whether by design or not, it wraps up the disc nicely as a sort of review of everything that came before it.
This exceptionally well-done collection of hardcore music is available via iTunes, Bandcamp, Amazon MP3, Cdbaby and Google Play as well as directly from the band itself. Underpriced at $5, the album and the band are a must-have for head bangers old and new.