Sunday, September 30, 2007

Review: Overloaded - Regeneration (2007)

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Detroit's Overloaded cemented their place as my favorite local metal band with their 2005 debut Hail the Kingdom, a high-octane album supercharged with '80s metal attitude and raucousness. Since then, the band has gone on to release an EP and a compilation and now comes at the metal community with Regeneration, a 9 track ass kickin' that takes flight right where their debut left off. As on the first album, the songs are pedal to the metal from start to finish - no trace of a power ballad or acoustic moment can be found.

The key to Overloaded's successful formula is twofold. First is the voice of frontman Chris Gillen. A mixture of Sammy Hagar and Sebastian Bach, with a little bit of Dexter Holland thrown in for good measure, Chris has a style that literally screams '80s metal pretentiousness. He is the perfect fit for Overloaded's brand of metal debauchery, which wouldn't be the fist to the face that it is without the slick guitar work of Erik Kluiber and John Sullens - the second ingredient in the band's gritty recipe. Together the two deliver riff after powerful riff, driving each tune with catchy harmonies that beg for inclusion in the next Guitar Hero. Erik often breaks away with a lightning lick or a soaring solo, always perfectly placed for maximum effect and never distracting from the song as a whole. The rhythm section, always the unsung and often under appreciated members of any band, make their presence very much noticed throughout Regeneration. Mike Massie's bass is up in the mix, where it ought to be, adding an extra punch to the roundhouse riffs while Lorenzo Gonzalez keeps the beat with a style that makes the intricate patterns seem effortless.

Picking out a favorite track on this album was just as hard as it was with the debut. This doesn't mean that there isn't enough good songs, or even enough variety, to make a choice. On the contrary, each song stands on its own merits and there isn't a sub-par track on the entire disc. I easily could write a paragraph about each song, but for the sake of brevity I will spare you. Going back to Hail the Kingdom, I felt that "Feeling Overloaded" stood a hair above the rest due to its anthemic qualities. The song makes a reappearance on Regeneration as well, but with a bit of a makeover. As good as the original is, version 2007 goes a step further and stands as, in my mind anyway, a classic of the genre. The tune has everything - a catchy opening lead, a groove-intensive main riff, prominent Hi Hat, a gang chorus, and sneering vocals full of grit.

Another great track is "Presidents Day". Opening with a rumble from Lorenzo, Chris kicks in with a lilting style that quickly snatches your attention and leads you directly into the cavernous riffs from Erik and John. The solo on this track is one of Erik's best, most expansive, and least restrained of the album. In the end, though, that bottomed out riff keeps you coming back for more.

Regeneration is an excellent album full of energy, swagger, and mettle. Overloaded pays homage to their '80s metal influences in a way that will undoubtedly appeal to fans of the genre while at the same time manage to sound fresh and modern. They are very skilled at blending the two "schools" of metal, and for that reason and so many others they should be a part of your playlist.

Track Listing
1What's In There3:29
2Obviously Envious4:12
3Feeling Overloaded3:39
4Presidents Day3:57
5Ride That Feeling3:35
6Why Don't You Love Me Anymore?4:21
7Don't Leave This Way3:35
8Flashy Girl3:16
9Try This On For Size4:21
Total Runtime34:15

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