On High (The Music Cartel)
by Brian Varney
Though the band’s name no doubt evokes images of gangbangers, sampled beats, and liberal usage of terms like “bitch” and “ho,” ain’t no gangsta rap album with a UFO cover that I know of (and one featuring soloing by a dude from Savatage, at that), so you can settle in knowing that this is a rock album, and a pretty damn hot one at that. Murder 1 are from New Jersey, a state called home by a pretty impressive group of rock bands.
Reading a bit of their background and how they went from making music with Kid Rock to wanting to explore their ’70s roots by playing stoner rock immediately raises doubts of their credibility and would make the average underground snob wanna sneeringly call ’em sell-outs or bandwagon jumpers, but really, if someone was looking to change their style with the express purpose of a quick cash-in, they wouldn’t choose stoner rock, now would they?
Besides, “pure blood” or not, this is some seriously rockin’ shit, ’70s Deep Purple/UFO-flavored arena rock cut with early ’80s hardcore and Appetite-era GNR. It’s an album where meandering Hammond organ lines intersect violently with pissed-off, screaming rock god vocals and fat, downtuned guitar lines which jump into double-time middle eighths without warning before swooping back to Earth just in time for the requisite Big Rock Ending. The strongest song here is the UFO cover “Rock Bottom,” but there are fine moments to be had throughout. They’re not songwriters on par with Schenker and Mogg just yet, but that’s a lot to expect from a young band. Their heads and hearts are in the right place and they’ve got all of the necessary raw materials to take this someplace good. Not a reinvention of the wheel in any way, but it’s a nice integration of wheels taken from several different vehicles.
(PO Box 629 Port Washington, NY 11050)