Written by Mike Yoder, posted by blog admin
Defection, Slow Burning Car’s fourth album, is a ten song collection aggressively putting this Los Angeles band over as one of the more cutting edge rock/metal acts working today. The band’s four musicians are obviously extraordinarily talent and play without any obvious ego trips, but they are clearly talented songwriters as well who thread influences into their work that further enhance their penchant for the personal and physical. These are songs capable of engaging listeners mentally and, naturally, physically. The muscular movement of the band’s music conforms to certain expectations we have about this style, but they prove themselves equally effective at twisting arrangements in unexpected directions and bringing the listeners with them. This is an album that cannot be denied and Slow Burning Car is definitely intent on winning over new fans to their work so, despite its idiosyncratic air, the songs never fails to strike an accessible note.
Much of Slow Burning Car’s accomplishment with this release rests with their ability to mix up their musical approach, yet retain compelling coherence. Defection’s first half is largely devoted to big, brawling guitars. It begins with thenotic riffing behind “Alpha Duplicor” colored with just a hint of electronic flair to give the song a distinctive modern bite. The band’s guitar sound is current, but their sense of what constitutes a good riff is very much a throw back to older acts and the mix suits their aims quite well. “Soul Crimes” unleashes the band’s aggression in a more pronounced way as the uptempo charge of the song comes at listeners without compromise. There’s a genuine punk spirit you can discern along the edges of their musical attack, but the musicianship remains at a high level throughout. Bassist and lead singer Troy Spiropoulos excels with his vocal every bit as much with a barnstormer like this as he did on the more moderately paced opener. The unusual tempo and herky-jerky movements of “The Orb” allows Spiropoulos’ bass playing a chance to step into the spotlight and he also serves up a simmering, yet understated, vocal that dovetails well with the song’s subject.
“The Sunday Derby” is another idiosyncratic band achievement and another rhythm section centered tune. There’s some particularly jagged electric guitar inserted into the song’s mid way point and second half, but six string heroics aren’t what powers this song musically. It shifts through different textures, as well, to supremely compelling effect. “You Can’t Stay Here” dispenses with any frills and gives listeners probably the closest thing to an all out rocker on the album and definitely taps into a rambunctious punk rock spirit. The album takes on a much different tone and even an experimental edge the rest of the way – it’s largely devoted to acoustic sounds that never follow a predictable path with the exception of the album’s penultimate number, “Polar Warden”, an eight minute plus near ambient workout heavy on electronica and sans vocals. It’s a bold risk to take so late in the release, but Slow Burning Car gamble and it pays off quite handsomely. The finale “Clouds” is best considered more of a coda – after the explorations of “Polar Warden”, casting it in any other mold feels anti-climatic. It’s a graceful close to the album however that underlines many of the band’s strengths. Defection easily qualifies as one of 2017’s most interesting, varied releases in this vein.