Sound: Odds are you've heard of Bang Camaro either from Guitar Hero II or Rock Band, if you haven't let me break it down for you.
Bang Camaro are a balls-to-the-wall rock outfit from Boston, currently signed to Black Sword Music, 8th Impression Music and Fontana/Universal. Founded and led by the two guitarists Bryn Bennett and Alex Necochea, each song on their eponymous debut is fit to burst with catchy riffing and clever dual guitar play, however what really makes this band stand apart from others is their vocalists. I pluralise the term because they employ up to a dozen vocalists to really give their album that anthemic, stadium feel and they pull it off with aplomb.
Each individual instrument shines on this album. The dual lead guitar really shines on tracks like "Out On The Streets" and "Swallow The Razor", both of which are driven by unrelenting, eardrum-thumping riffs with intermittent 80's licks thrown in for good measure. Alex and Bryn's skill as writers and musicians should be not underestimated, each song has a definite energy and passion behind it.
The bass never really has a chance to shine on the album, but it can at least be HEARD which is a rare occurrence nowadays and there are times when the bass carries the song over from one passage to another as heard on "Push Push (Lady Lightning)".
The drumming on this album is isn't something that immediately jumps out at you, but upon a closer listen it becomes obvious that the drummer is more than competent and often lays down your above-average beat, providing a sturdy vehicle for the raucous, fist-pumping rock anthems to ride on.
Now I'll offer a quick track-by-track breakdown.
01."Push Push (Lady Lightning)": this is the track that featured on Guitar Hero II and subsequently saw Bang Camaro getting their foot in the door on the popular music scene. It's a soaring rock opener that clocks in at just under 5 minutes with a catchy chorus and clever guitar work.
02."Swallow The Razor": this is one of those songs that you can imagine listening to while driving an obnoxiously large car at 200mph through a busy city. Driven by thumping, marching basslines and aggresssive riffing its another strong track.
03."Pleasure (Pleasure)": another one of Bang Camaro's video game tracks, this time appearing on rival pseudo-rock outing, Rock Bang. Another track driven by anthemic vocals, intricate dual guitars with a chorus that'll have you singing along by the second chorus.
04."Gates Of Love": a tongue-in-cheek, faux-ballad that features what I consider to be quite amusing lyrics: "First - he pulls it out, then - he sticks it in, now - he starts you up, he takes you for a ride." A quite enjoy this shameless, bare-faced euphemism, it really captures that late 70's/80's stadium rock feel.
05."The Ballad": I love this song, its soaring vocals, that laid back vibe which draws you out of the relentless riffing to treat you to some guitar play that's reminiscent of some great blues players and reminds me, though I can't place why, of something Hendrix might do. When the lyrics kick in at around 2 minutes they're the sort of vocals that have your lighter in the air.
06."Out on the Streets": hands down my favourite song off the album, opened by a crunchy riff before barrelling down into an almost galloping chugathon interspersed with little licks here and there and arguably the best dual guitar work on the album.
07."You Know I Like My Band": again, a laid back, calming number, at just under 2 minutes long some might call this filler, but I consider it a necessary segue away from the thumping rock and roll, giving you a chance to get your bearings before...
08."F.Y.T.F.O": ...kicks in. This song uses the typical big rock outro as an intro and that sets the tone perfectly. This is a hi-octane, no-prisoners rock song with unfaltering energy and no pause for thought, it runs amok for 4 minutes before burning out.
09."Nightlife Commando": a song that opens with some nice acoustic work before a brief pause and suddenly, soaring vocals, screaming guitar and chugging riffs, another pumping anthem.
10."Rock of Mages": featured on the video game Titan Quest this another by the numbers track, offering up nothing particularly new but still keeping with the theme of the album well.
11."Rock Rebellion": the lyrics on this song are perhaps a little cheesy: "We're not our father's sons, we are the chosen ones." This song features probably the most singing of any song and I think that's where it falls down. Bang Camaro do it best when they stick to sing-along choruses and fist-pumping verses.
12."Bang Camaro": the last track on the album and guaranteed to go out with a bang (no pun intended). The only lyrics here are the intermittently shouted "BANG! CAMARO!" some might say that's a little self-absorbed but after offering us this 51-minute long jem of shameless, indulgent arena rock I think Bang Camaro deserves to give themselves a pat on the back. // 9
Lyrics: As one would expect from a band with 12 vocalists, the lyrics don't exactly shine. But if Bang Camaro tried to crowbar some sort of political agenda into their music it would undoubtedly ruin it. The lyrics are meant to be simple, sing-along and anthemic and they achieve this perfectly. On the second listen through you'll find yourself joining in with shouts of "Pleasure (Pleasure)!" or something similar. These lyrics won't get you thinking, but they will get you singing along and enjoying yourself, which is what this band is all about. // 7
Overall Impression: I absolutely love this album, I don't think there's a weak track on there. Sometimes the formula becomes a little repetitive as you get onto the later tracks, but its never boring, never slow and never pretends to be anything other than good time hard rock. You always know what to expect from Bang Camaro and that is some damn catchy tunes, packed with creative riffing, soaring guitar work and booming vocals. If none of this gets your blood flowing and your fist pumping then you're beyond help. // 9