Without a doubt, the most challenging task awaiting any band is that of creating music that is totally original. We are so far down the musical lineage that it is almost impossible to hear music that doesn’t harken back to some historic influence, or perhaps fashion itself after the latest “hot” trend. You’ll frequently see music critics refer to a certain heavy rock sound as “Zeppelin-esque” or bright pop music as “Beatle-esque”, but this is by no means a bad thing, it’s the norm. Musicians are the sum of their influences, and most, throughout their careers carry it with them like luggage. But it’s that precious handful of bands who are able to mold their collective influences into a sound that becomes their own—their own indelible musical stamp. Listening to Crushdown’s debut album, Like This, you’ll immediately find that they are not quite there yet.
From the opening title track you get the message loud and clear, that Crushdown rocks and rocks hard. But for the most part Like This doesn’t present the listener with anything that they haven’t already heard. The record conjures up quite an array of obvious influences like Creed, Korn, Sponge and Alice in Chains. Songs like “Loose” and “Close My Eyes” are excellent tunes, however Justin Raymond’s vocals pay reverent homage to AIC’s Layne Staley, while guitarists Bruce Sonneborn and Pete Dembroski show that they’ve gotten Jerry Cantrell’s heavy rock style down to a science. But then there are moments where Crushdown sounds like—well, Crushdown. “Dosage” is the disc’s most outstanding tune, from it’s beautiful opening slide guitar melody to it’s bombastic chorus, you get a good idea of what this band is capable of doing once they toss their influences aside. “Water” and “Cold Floor Mornings” concur the thought—brilliant melodies bolstered by a backdrop of explosively heavy, but catchy guitar riffs.
The majority of Like This may sound somewhat derivative, but it’s still a pretty good effort. While Crushdown isn’t rattling the cage of originality on a consistent basis, they do give you a sneak peak of how good they’ll be once they shed their skin.