Saturday, April 21, 2012

Album Review: Emergency Ahead, Self-Titled

Last week, I saw the 5 year anniversary show of one of the flagship local bands here in Albuquerque, Emergency Ahead.  It was there second show in celebration of a special event for this band in just a few months, the first show being their CD release show. 

Now, lots of local bands put out albums.  It’s normally a pretty special event.  Not many bands have been together for over 5 years and have only recently put out their first full-length.  Emergency Ahead self-titled first release is 15 tracks long, several of which top the 6 minute mark, one even shooting past 11 minutes in length.  They’ve put in a lot of time on this project and it shows.  Having played more concerts in the last 5 years than probably any other local band, it was about time Emergency Ahead graced us with recordings, and they do not disappoint.

From a doom-y intro with high shrieking feedback undercurrents, Emergency Ahead blasts ferociously into their next song, “Messianic Mission”.  What immediately gets me about Emergency Ahead and this recording of theirs in particular is how piercing and high-pitched the screams are.  This vocal style permeates the album and in a few spots they have a nearly (gnarly) black metal quality to them.  The timber of the vocals keep this album from sounding brocore at any point while still allowing it to be punchy, have a few break-downs, and gang-vocals.  The quality of the vocals do something else as well.  They lend a subtly youthful, roguish quality to the music, which works wonderfully.

The guitar riffing throughout the tracks is reminiscent of Dead Kennedys in the way that it’s a bit surf-y while maintaining a hard-hitting punk sound.  At other points the guitaring sounds almost as if it was being performed by The Ramones, but mixed more clearly.  The song “Whining” has a really blistering and strange solo which I like a lot.  The solo/lead bit on “Bad Day” is absolutely blistering.

The album really reminds me of late-70’s and early 80’s punk rock.  In the middle of “Fun at the Mall” I feel like they should bust into “TV Party” because the notions being expressed and the tone they are presented in line up so perfectly with that song.  The beginning few seconds of “Road Rage” sound like some amazing, bleak musical fossil from 1983.  For much of the album this stylistic theme stays constant but then Emergency Ahead slaps you in the face with something like “Mountain Jam” (a song that would as easily be an electrified cover of a Planxty song as it could be a punkier version of 60’s hippie jam) or “Surf Run Away” (that on the quieter bits could be a Dick Dale track if Dick Dale hated society) or “Incephalicitus” (which has lots of weird vocal looping, talking, and strange singing with vocal effects and vocals changing levels in between pretty savage breakdowns) or the verse part of “Dead to the World” (which is uncomfortably bluesy and Will sounds really drunk here).

They’ve got brutal hardcore parts, thrilling and immature punk magic-tricks, strange and aimless grim noise bits, evil ska sections, and when they really go for it, the high timber of their screams seep into some really dirty places.  When the members of this band aren’t playing a show (which is unusual because they play every show) they’re in the audience thrashing around.  This is street punk at its absolute finest.  You could drop Emergency Ahead onto one of those big street punk labels like Hellcat or Fat Wreck Chords and they’d be totally fine.  In fact, they’d be a lot more fun to watch than The Unseen or The Casualties ever have been.  Here’s to 5 more years.

4 more years!  4 more years!  4 more years!

3 word chant!

5 0 5

up the punx!

Linx the shtuff!

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