Ghosts

Big Wreck

Rounder, 2014

http://www.bigwreckmusic.com

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/29/2014

It is tempting to label Big Wreck as Canada’s answer to Soundgarden, as the one band that picked up the mantle in 1997 when that Seattle band broke up in 1996. Certainly, Ian Thornley’s voice is eerily similar to Chris Cornell with hints of Dave Matthews and Peter Gabriel, and the band’s pummeling yet melodic attack – inspired by Zeppelin and Guns ‘N Roses – would have fit right at home on Down On The Upside or Superunknown.

But such a comparison would be both facile and inaccurate. There is a strong DMB current that runs through several of these songs, both in Thornley’s phrasing (check out the verses of the title track) and the band’s tendency to jam and groove a bit, extending these songs well past the five minute mark and a few beyond seven minutes. Like all good groove bands, though, the songs rarely feel that long, as the riffs and rhythm work together in beautiful, pounding harmony.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Rock radio would be better off ditching its soundalike Seether/Avenged Sevenfold/Nickelback/Saving Abel crap and playing a track like “I Digress,” which melds Slash-inspired guitar on the verse, a melodic neo-psychedelic chorus and Cornell (er, Thornley) effortlessly moving from a growl to a scream to a croon, all while Chuck Keeping drums his ass off. It is an excellent four and a half minutes. It would kick your favorite self-important indie-pop-rock band’s ass up and down the alley, anyway.

There is a slight progressive rock element to the songwriting, in how the melodies take twists and turns and things don’t quite go as expected, and as such the album is dense and rewarding, none more so than on “Friends.” Multiple listens reveal more each time, especially on the title track, the dueling piano of “My Life” and the Eastern-inspired “Hey Mama,” which recalls Zeppelin’s forays down similar paths interspersed with a Dave Matthews-esque bridge. “Come What May” suggests a leaner, hungrier Foo Fighters and the cover of “War Baby” is a dynamic, powerful anthem that worms its way into your soul.

This quintet has been criticized for sounding generic, or too much like Soundgarden, and there are a few moments that embody that. A portion of modern rock fans out there feel post-grunge is dead and anything associated with it is not worthwhile, and that may be true in the case of bands like Seether, but Big Wreck is an exception; not for nothing do they have a cult following. This isn’t retro rock; this is classicist rock, loud and addictive and packed with surprises, and it’s one of the better rock albums you’ll hear this year.

Rating: B

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