The world lost one of the last remaining voices of the first Grunge explosion December 2015, when Stone Temple Pilot's Scott Weiland joined Alice In Chain's Layne Stayley, Blind Melon's Shannon Hoon and of course Kurt Cobain in Valhalla. And while Grunge hasn't enjoyed quite the renaissance as other '90s musical movements, Grunge's mixture of stripped-down punk rock, metal's ferocity, and glam sexuality is alive and well in today's musical genome. I think Weiland would be happy to know the blend of punk/metal intensity with mainstream accessibility is thriving with bands like Welland, Ontario's Key Machine.
I mention Weiland and Stayley as the vocals are nearly identical, for two of the Revival EP's three songs - anthemic, soaring, sort-of androgynous but still sexed up. Musically, Key Machine also share Grunge's energy and drive, while retaining the immediacy and accessibility of Grunge's punk side.
The recording technique does a lot to emphasize this feel. The trio rented out a large hall, recording the basic skeletons of the tracks to capture the real raw rock feel of their performances, which were augmented with minor overdubs. The Revival EP sounds frankly exceptional for a live record, speaking to Key Machine's prowess as a live band.
This is to their credit as, to be frank, I mostly can't stand glammy arena rock vocals. Anything with a whiff of hair metal earns my instant and immediate scorn. I was initially hesitant towards Key Machine's yarbling, thinking, "Oh no, here we go again. Another Nickelback cover band!" Rarely have I so quickly eaten my words, remembering why we don't judge a record from its first 12 seconds.
The moody, bluesy acoustic twang of "And Having Writ" sold me, sounding more like John Fahey than Jerry Cantrell. Key Machine have many sides, and aren't afraid to explore them! And with 20 years under our belts, isn't it time to consider the strengths and weaknesses of Grunge objectively? High soaring vocals tend to sound great over a sludgy bedrock of downtuned distorted guitars; better, in fact, than a lot of extreme metal, which can become a wall of indistinguishable low-end blur (which I also love, incidentally, but is certainly never going to be a big crossover success).
Revival is a short-and-sweet taster, in preparation for a full-length, which is due towards the beginning of next year. With such diverse tastes, and the technical abilities to pull off an EP that sounds this good, this should definitely be something to hear, no matter what flavor of rock gets your rocks off.
We are dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We critique a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook