Album: On The Edge
Release Date: 13 September 2013
Record Label: High Roller Records
Buy from Bandcamp (digital) and name your price: Here
Buy from High Roller Records (CD or vinyl): Here
One of the best new things here at DCHM this year has been the addition of two new writers doing album reviews on the site. We try to keep our album reviews focused on local bands, that’s kind of the point of the blog, but for the end of the year I told them both that they could pick any album from 2013, local, national or international, that they thought didn’t get enough attention this year to write a review of. The following is Grimy Grant’s pick for his favorite unsung album of the year, On the Edge by Richmond natives Volture. Of course be sure to follow Grimy Grant on Twitter at @jgrantd if you don’t already and be sure to read Tal’s choice for unnoticed album of 2013, Echoes Of Battle by Caladan Brood, here.
Volture is a band I’ve grown attached to recently. Their loyalty to old-school metal doesn’t stand out much in the crowd of current throwback bands worshipping at the shrines of Raven, Judas Priest, or Motley Crue. What makes them unique to me is their focus on tight, quick hard rock that is good old fashioned fun. Brent Hubbard, the former vocalist for the band, and Jack Bauer, the current lead singer, both seem to be imitating Rob Halford as they belt out tunes referring to motorcycle rides and the deadly Volture – an electric steel bird similar to the one on the cover of the Judas Priest classic album Screaming For Vengeance. A recognizable face in the group is Ryan Waste, lead guitarist for one of Richmond’s major metal bands, Municipal Waste. When I saw Volture play at GWAR-B-Q this year, Ryan Waste seriously plucked his bass and didn’t do the stage banter that he usually does with Municipal Waste vocalist Tony Foresta. Considering the ‘Waste is a huge asset to the RVA music scene, it’s commendable that Ryan Waste sticks to being just a member of the gang in Volture rather than the “star talent.” That could be on purpose since most of Volture’s themes are about being a gang of brothers as well as a band.
On the Edge is the band’s 2013 release and to me it’s the best thing they’ve put out yet because it goes over the top and doesn’t look back. The first track, “On the Edge,” kicks the album off with an image of soldiers “Raging onward / … / taking back what’s ours” and living by the code of “No surrender, no return” to their homes. Nick Poulos and Dave Boyd, the guitarists for the band, shred out a number of quick solos that help energize the song with the kind of speed and excitement of a battle. It’s a thrashy sound that goes overboard and which I really got into from the start. “Ride the Nite” follows immediately with Bauer joyfully singing about “Kick start the weekend / Going for a ride.” It’s a simple lyric but a sincere one sung by Bauer, whose voice doesn’t show any irony. Barry Cover drums a quick, solid beat through both of the first two tracks while Ryan Waste keeps the beat going steady with his bass. Performing classic fantasy themes tied with speed metal may be a bit laughable and tongue-in-cheek when performed today, but it’s pulled off well due to the commitment from the band and their skill.
Simplicity is both an engine for making On the Edge a perfect party album but also teeters on the side of being forgettable. Volture’s main issue is the same as Municipal Waste, Cannabis Corpse, and the other bands under the RVA punk and metal scene: they are consistent, keep their songs simplistic yet fun, and can be taken for granted as just another party band. On the Edge tries to raise the bar a bit in songs such as “Deep Dweller,” where Bauer paints a world of living underground in a post-apocalyptic Earth and surviving on the basics. That’s an interesting twist on the “band of brothers” theme that the album depicts in songs such as “On the Edge” and “Brethren of the Coast” and I like that it’s included as the last track on the album. The song before “Deep Dweller,” “Rock you Hard,” is the most light-hearted song on the album, something that reminds me of Manowar’s “Kings of Metal,” since both boast their respective band’s prowess and skill to their own fans. Volture’s version is overwhelmingly positive and traditional, referring mostly to the power and volume of their music rather than being brutal or overly technical. On the Edge is a great example of a classic metal album keeping it positive, powerful, and most importantly – timeless.
Ride the Nite:
Brethren of the Coast:
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