Full disclosure, Contra are our buds and they recorded this slab of thunder at the same studio where we’ve laid down our deput EP (Bad Back Studios, Cleveland OH). Some of the tunes on this album were previously recorded and released on an earlier, instrumental demo that Contra put out earlier last year. With the addition of Larry Gargus (Don Austin, Hatchet Job, etc.) on vocals, Contra went back into the studio to record their catalog as it stands today. Three of the four demos were re-recorded with vocals while the other was left as an instrumental. Long story longer, this album features some songs that are new, some songs that were old but are now new again (with vocals), and an older song that was given fresh new life with a killer new recording.
Gargus sounds like he hasn’t before; a deeper bellow guides these songs and he sounds pissed – I’m hearing something like the cross of early-Clutch Neil Fallon and the better moments of Iron Lung from Scissorfight. Contra has an interesting line-up, with Chris Chiera (Sofa King Killer, Abdullah, etc.) on lead guitar and Adam Horwatt (The Slow Blade, So Long Albatross) on a reduced-string count rhythm guitar that’s passed through a poly octave generator into some killer bass amps. This album might also feature an actual bass track, it’s tough to say, because the low end is thick and meaty. Chiera’s leads are dumped all over the place and the drums of Aaron Brittain (Rue, Unclean, etc.) are heavy and bring the thunderous, molasses-thick grooves.
Check it out when you get the chance! – Jason
Human Buzzsaw – This one hits hard behind a Leslie West style riff and a great feedback intro, plus more guitar leads than you can shake a stick at. It sounds pretty huge. Brittain’s drums sound gigantic, the kick drum easily cutting through the din and firmly establishing the groove. The chorus is reminding me of a heavier Clutch tune, and I like the slow-down starting around 2 and half minutes in.
Snake Goat – This track was included on the Son Of Beast EP as an instrumental, but is presented here with vocals. Gargus’ screaming is beefy, and the hook is pretty catchy even if I can’t quite tell what he’s yelling at me. Again, this feels like authentic 1970s riffage, with great tones and thick grooves. This is a slick tune with plenty of heavy and head-bobbing to make me happy. …and check out the sweet Fu Manchu-esque riff they dish out in the last half of the song. Ah yeah!
Altered Beast – I can’t get Mountain and Fu Manchu out of my head. This instrumental rides a great number of killer riffs with efficiency, moving along nicely for the entire 3 minutes and 19 seconds, thanks in large part to tasteful guitar leads dropped in throughout the tune. It’s a fun, thick, slab or rock and roll.
The Gorgon – This one is a brute, getting out of the gate with a pounding drum intro before the band comes with a driving, twisting riff. Again, a bunch of sweet riffs to be heard here, and the song is a ripper. It’s under 2 and half minutes long, so it leaves me wanting more. Thumbs way up. In a way, it reminds me of Red Fang. C’mon guys, where’s the hilarious music video for this one to get you viral exposure?!
Humanoid Therapy – Another track from the Son Of Beast EP given vocals and a second lease on life. I like how the faster, twisting riffs are pierced by the slower verses, and then the super-slow down a minute in where the band starts slogging through sludge-metal territory. The track covers a lot of ground over 6 minutes. The super-slow riff is so heavy. Love it. The all out guitar-waterfall near the end makes the song get more and more full-sounding. Nice.
Son Of Beast – Another, dirty bit of super-heaviness; the verse riff is a real monster. My neck and foot are both slamming in unison. The vocals have a real chaotic feel to them at times during the verse, and I’m digging it. So tough! Gargus’s voice takes on a strange timbre near the end of this one that is nothing like anything I’ve heard him do before, so that’s cool. Thumbs way up on this one, as well.
Bottom Feeder – I remembered this one from the Son of Beast EP, but again, this time it’s got the added benefit of fresh vocals on top. The chorus is strangely poppy in the context of the heavy, relentless chugging of the verses. Good stuff! The bounce of the main riff is cool.
One Hundred Hand Slap – Another redux from the Son Of Beast EP. This tune is still instrumental and still a funky jam, launching out of a cascade of guitar feedback. This is essentially a foundation for Chiera to solo over. This one feels a lot like Karma To Burn, and not just because it’s instrumental riff rock. The vibe, the phrasing, it just brings to mind my favorite WV rockers.
Dr. Goldfoot – Woah, another set of killer riffs makes up this tune and my foot is pounding away. The slowdown near 3 minutes is awesome. More leads ensue and my neck is getting sore from all this head bobbing. Another A+ track. Rocker.
Shrimp Cocktail – The longest track on the album, Shrimp Cocktail opens with a slow, meaty riff and a vocal berating. Heavy. Large swaths of the song are left to Chiera’s lead and trusty wah pedal, while the rest of the band riffs away on a killer groove.