Writer’s Note: Before I continue, I gotta say that it’s been too long! Life has been insane and I’ve gone a little more insane too! There is far too much for me to catch up on. Movies, video games, music albums, whatever! But, I’m back in action in one form or another. Even though I’m not completely back together, I’ll continue to shamble on with this reanimated corpse of a blog as well. Will I be back to a weekly basis? Not sure, I’m trying to kick my gaming projects into full gear. You might get me weekly, maybe every 2 weeks. But enough about me, let’s talk about THE SHRINE with their 2016 album, “RARE BREED!”
The Shrine wasn’t a band I would have stumbled upon by myself. That credit goes to some of my good buddies who love hopping bars and venues to support local and smaller name bands. But none the less, I was intrigued upon hearing their raw and awesome sound at the St. Vitus bar in Brooklyn back in October 2015. It was a joined show between them and Dirty Fences with “Big Truck” opening for them. It was a sick sound to make for a truly sick show. While the band did not have the newest CD available to the public yet, I was hooked on their righteous riffs and violent vibrancy.
Now, how would I describe The Shrine? They’re a thick and fuzzy soundscape of rocky bluesy tradition, colliding with classic yet fresh hard rock alongside a screaming torrent of skater punk rock rage. Now, what does that mean? An eclectic mix of rock music sounds blended into a distinct, modern sound. Containing an energy that brings to mind classic era punk and alternative groups, while bringing a heaviness and raw power associated with a Sabbath era sound; The Shrine proves to be a band that keeps a crowd rolling. Their most recent release, “Rare Breed”, unleashes a raw and lively sound to capture the spirit of Rock and Roll.
The album starts up with a wake up call of head slamming heavy sound meets angry skater energy. “Coming Down Quick” dishes out a throwback to ’80s stadium groups colliding with a mad punk rock fever. The hard hitting riffs and bombastic drums give way to equally melodic and harsh vocals to deliver a trip kicking into overdrive. Following that is the commercially spread song, “Death to Invaders.” An almost Sabbath-y opening gives way to an assault of hardcore ‘punkified’ blues fueled by biker war cries that would make Lemmy proud. The title track pounds out some doomy and grungy tunes about a love like from something out of an intense dream… or nightmare. “Acid Drop” picks up the theme of intense drug rush from Coming Down Quick, conveying a mad descent through stoner rock psychedelia and pure sludgy sounding bliss for the ears. This track alone is worth the price of admission. A slower but more melody focused track follows with “What’s Left For Me”. While very catchy, the lively beat carried the song on more than anything.
To match the brutal themes of gang warfare and urban turbulence, “Savage Skulls and Nomads” perfectly captures a battle ballad of biker violence and the city in disrepair. Likewise, “The Vulture” continues the auditory thrashing using the Vietnam War for the song’s narrative instead. “Never More than Now” kicks up the previous tracks in a torrent of raw metal fierceness and slicing punk sound fury. Piercing instruments and mostly shouted vocals make this one of the harsher pieces.
“Pull the Trigger” shines a variety of classic influence that brings the listener back to a band that didn’t exist yet. The opening through closing epic solo brings to mind stadium rocker greats, by itself! It’s a relatively short piece of pure shredding magic. The last few tracks of the album following that are nothing short of fantastic for their own reasons. “Dusted and Busted” crafts up a cautionary tale with an almost down tune to match. The somber melody and vocals feel right at home with many later alternative tracks that would rather bring rocking melody and righteous vocals than ruthless, blasting rhythms. Despite being significantly different than the rest of the album, it stands out as one of its greats. Meanwhile, “Space Steppin” starts out as a fairly slow jam that transforms into a spacey and trippy seven minute journey guided by the band themselves.
The lyrics range from harsh life and ultra violence in the ’60s – ’70s (The Vulture, Savage Skulls and Nomads) to sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll (Rare Breed, Acid Drop). All in all, the songs provide a wide variety of themes for the vocalist to deliver in truly awesome fashion. As far as general the rest of the sound goes, they mesh the old school with the new school to create something that’s refreshing yet familiar. The instruments deliver rock soundscapes that bring back a variety of classic and nostalgic sounds; hardcore punk a la Black Flag, stoner rock a la Monster Magnet, early metal a la Black Sabbath, Pentagram and certainly Blue Cheer, harsher punk-inspired metal a la early Thrash and Speed acts. The band culminates a primordial soup of rock n roll sound into something that feels unique to them.
What makes this band all the more awesome is that they’re only a trio. All of this incredible sound comes out of three guys from California: Josh Landau on Lead Vocals/Guitar, Court Murphy on Bass and Jeff Murray on Drums. However, while this remains my first album, I’m none the less impressed by their absolute power. The band bills themselves as “Psychedelic Violence” and this album alone shows it.
If you’re looking for a new band to check out, The Shrine is sure to please! And if anything I described above appeals to you in some way, Rare Breed is your must have album!
Rare Breed gets 9 (acid) trips through the gore-strewn nether-weird out of 10!