Ape Machine

War to Head

by Liam McManus

22 September 2011

 
cover art

Ape Machine

War to Head

(Ape Machine Music)
US: 20 Sep 2011

I sure do love me some good ol’ fashioned riff-rock. The kind that makes me wanna throw on my cutoff denim jacket and hop on a Harley. So if that’s what you’re looking for, then yeah, this is some groovy stuff, dude.

But something about this just seems off. The tone of the guitars, the vocals, they just seem kinda tame. If the guitars were as heavy as the riffs are, and if the singer was presenting himself with some real conviction behind his voice, then this album would be pretty badass, something in the vein of Blue Cheer, Deep Purple, other bands with colors in their name or one of my personal favorites, the first Sir Lord Baltimore LP. But as it is, the guitars, rather than going to 11, to paraphrase Nigel Tufnel, seem stuck on six or seven. I want some motherlovin’ ROCK, motherlover! This feels too much like a tease, to give me the big fat riffs, the Sabbath approach to song structure, where verse-chorus-verse is perfunctory at best, the soaring vocals with the growl and bite to back them up, the flashy solos of a Jimmy Page or a Tony Iommi. Likewise, the singer just doesn’t sound like he’s really pushing himself hard enough. His voice just feels self-constrained, as if he’s afraid to really sing until his damn lungs burst a la Brian Johnson or Rob Halford. And for this kind of music, that’s just no good. Give me rock or give me death. Don’t be afraid to kick some major tuchas, gentlemen.

But beyond that, the songs are at least a little above average. Like I said, some pretty good riffs, although you’ve probably heard similar ones before (although that’s the point of this kind of music, isn’t it?). Definitely some retro metal going on here, kind of reminds me of similar contemporary acts like the Sword, but not as heavy. Technically these guys are also a little above average musicians, nothing really blew me away about their playing, but like a friend told me once about this kind of music, “You’re confusing simple with dumb.” Yes, this is simple, as opposed to dumb, music and is meant to be. But it is also heavy music and is meant to be. You’ve got potential, boys, now for the love of Satan crank up your damn amps and scream from the pits of Hell!

War to Head

Rating:

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