Except for Deadheads who seem to somehow never die out or they are replenished, somewhere like video game characters after they die, the next group that seems to have endless members keeping the flame alive are the metal fans. They’re still everywhere, in every single town and city, big and small. Two such guys who are fanning the eternal flames of heavy metal are the Boston based boys, Victor and Stephen who along with a changing cast of characters head up the hard rock outfit Renegade Cartel.
The problem with hard rock and metal is that it seems to scare a lot of people away, or rather it seems to have a stigma about it that conjures up images of flaming crosses and snakes and skulls. It’s also very loud and fast and the guitars often sound like they’re soprano chainsaws. But from a musical standpoint hard rock and metal songs are some of the most complicated to play, especially when compared to other rock genres like punk or grunge et al. So, there’s at least a base line that must be established before you can even think about starting a decent metal band. You need to do your research and get your chops up.
The six songs that comprise Renegade Cartel’s eponymous debut EP Renegade Cartel show that a lot of hard work and practice went into the writing and recording of these songs. Victor and Stephen did their homework and it pays off for them on this record.
The opening track “Fire” comes out hitting hard. It has all the classic elements of heavy metal, wah wah guitars and high pitched and catchy vocal melodies and an ass-kicking sense of purpose. The music itself touches on blues and metal, much in the way that Zeppelin did. Then we shift into a more hair-metal friendly tune with “Misery in Company.” The blend of blues and hair-metal rocking kicks back into gear on “Silent Spring” which sounded to me as good as anything anyone was paying top dollar for in the ‘80s. The cherry on top of this cake is the eight-plus-minute closer “Crawl” which starts out sounding like Stone Temple Pilots and Alice in Chains and as it builds turns and finishes in a fugue of raging metal.
For anyone looking to dip their toes in the waters of metal, Renegade Cartel is a good place to start. But I’d also recommend it to those who have never wavered from this style of music. It’s a good EP to add to the collection because it’s done professionally and passionately, and that to me is always how the best music is made.
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