Doomriders - Grand Blood | Review

Party-metal is a genre that should really be much more popular than it is. Bands in this style sound like they wrote and recorded all of their songs in the midst of a drunken weekend bender, possibly while hanging out with their recently-dead boss and getting into some serious hijinks. Most famously embodied in the eternally-partying Andrew W.K., the style has seen a resurgence in recent years thanks to Kvelertak, and it’s basically impossible not to crack a smile while listening, even for the craggiest of old (at heart) men like me. There are harmonized guitars and breaks designed to give the singer time to crush a beer can on his forehead, wrapped up in a catchy package.

When at its best, Doomriders, fronted by Nate Newton of Converge, lives up to the moniker. On Grand Blood, the band’s newest, it splits the time between these fun party-mosh tunes and heavier, dirge-like songs that suffer in the comparison. Hardcore-tinged tracks like “Back Taxes” and opener “New Pyramids” rollick and roll while Newton spits in his Coliseum-style bark. Do I know what he’s saying? Hell no. But I’m too busy punch-dancing around my house to notice. It sounds like music both jocks and the nerds they are currently pushing into lockers would enjoy. “Mankind” has the kind of tapped guitar lead that is played with one foot on the monitors, the guitarist occasionally taking breaks to pump his fist at the crowd, and the bassist sounds like he could totally kick your ass. The title track is a little spacier but no less fun, in an early Baroness style.

For the first six tracks, this roaring doesn’t let up, and while it’s almost relentlessly one-note, Newton’s vocals in particular, it’s still a pretty good time. However, on track seven, “Death in Heat,” Grand Blood hits a speed bump it never really recovers from. “Death” has a slow, Sabbath-y riff which is, in theory, no different from what came before, but by stripping away the energy and the feeling of a beer-soaked good time, it starts to sound tired, and the rest of the record, minus “Back Taxes,” follows suit, even when the tempo is increased. These songs are less bad than uninteresting or uninspired, dynamically flat and forgettable.

In a sense, the rest of the record is just as unoriginal, but that boozy rock-and-roll quality lifts it up to another tier. This is flying-v metal, for bands with long hair who hate wearing shirts onstage and repeatedly dive into the crowd for the hell of it. I have no clue if this remotely describes Doomriders, who might do all or none of those things. But it sure sounds like they do. It makes sense the band is playing with High on Fire and especially Kvelertak on an upcoming tour of the U.S.: this is music to be heard in large groups, where the anonymity of the crowd lets you get a few good natured punches, karate chops, or high kicks in. So long as they stick away from the turgid back half of Grand Blood, the crowd will love it.

Rob Rubsam

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Rob Rubsam is a freelance writer and itinerant resident of Upstate New York. His writing about music has been published at CVLT Nation, Tom Tom Magazine, The Rumpus, Burning Ambulance, and others. When not contemplating giant squids or erecting a standing stone in his backyard, he tweets at @millenialistfun. Do not contact him with your black mass-related inquiries, please.