I have to admit that when I heard I was going to be reviewing a band called American Murder I was thinking they were going to be an intense metal band with plenty of demon like growls and double bass drum action. There are some heavy moments on The Hope and The Hopeless but after taking everything into account American Murder plays no frills style rock that feels more aligned with styles from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
The band first formed in 2005 by Dustin McBride (lead vocals/guitar) and Rob-O (bass/backing vocals). They released their debut album, got signed to a label and started to gain a following. In 2013 after eight years the band understandably needed a break that lasted a little over a year. With their recent release The Hope and The Hopeless the band is back at gaining more fans and playing more shows.
The production and recording quality is decent but slightly inconsistent. I thought the guitars and vocals sounded good throughout most of the songs but the definition of the drums varied from song to song. For instance the snare drum sounded too thin and the kick drum was barely audible on “Gimme Something” but to anyone's ears these elements were improved on “Good God.”
Speaking of drums, they are an integral component to the first track “Midget Mike Will Finally Have His Day In The Sun.” In fact you could argue the tribal drum patterns are what give the song the extra spice that helps separate it from sounding like a fairly predictable hard rock song. The song's a highlight and starts off extremely strong. McBride’s lyrics are inventive and his delivery is fluid and sounds natural.
He eventually attempts an angry like demon type shouting single words, which felt like it came out of nowhere. Instead of going into a predictable lead guitar solo the guitar creates waves of white noise, which was impressive. I was actually hoping that they dragged that part out longer instead of going into the more predictable breakdown and climax so quickly.
“Cacophony in F” is a straightforward rock song and definitely has elements of ‘90s and ‘80s rock. There is something within McBride’s delivery at times, which has a ‘80s vibe but it is hard to pinpoint. I did enjoy his spirited performance on this song. “Gimme Something” has an arena rock feel that lies somewhere between Bon Jovi and Goo Goo Dolls while “Good God” is simply a no frills style rock song.
The same could be said about “Let's Go!” which revolves around basic power chord progressions, predictable breakdowns and tropes that people have come to love. They close with “Untit” (not a typo), which is a highlight and contains stellar drumming.
American Murder isn’t reinventing rock by any stretch of the imagination and they don’t feel aligned with a lot of underground rock by groups like Deerhunter and Viet Cong who are stretching the limits of how we define the genre. Some may consider that a good thing. Their music is nostalgic in a way and will resonate most with those who like their brand of rock pure. They are a pure rock band that are passionate about what they play - that sounds like a good combination to me.
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