Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Album Review: Arson City Offers Short & Sweet Introduction With Self-Titled EP

Despite an appearance on the 2011 Carnival of Madness Tour and a great 2012 release on Atlantic Records, Emphatic was a band that came up just shy of becoming a household name in the hard rock community amid significant lineup changes.  While that group is preparing to release its next album with its lone original member, former vocalist Patrick Wilson has re-emerged with his own project, Arson City.

Apparently not wanting to waste any time returning to the minds of those who were exposed to his stellar vocals while Emphatic toured with the likes of Halestorm and Art of Dying, Wilson and company have just released a 4-track/3-song self-titled EP.  So, is the new Arson City an up-and-coming band to watch or a last-gasp effort by Wilson to retain Emphatic fans before they associate a new voice with that resilient and talented band?

Our call here at Helping Hands Rock Reviews is to definitely keep tabs on Arson City.  The EP shows that they have the firepower to blast upward in the modern rock world.

The EP's first track, "Welcome To Arson City," is a spoken word intro that serves as an accelerant for the inferno of music to follow.  The 2nd track and first song, "Enemy," starts off with some surprising electronic sounds before the kick-in of what you'd expect - a baritone or seven-string guitar cranking out some serious riffage.  Yeah, just try and keep your head still while listening to this one - betcha can't!  And if that killer riff didn't grab your attention, the rap that leads into a mosh-worthy bridge certainly will.

Next on tap is "I'm Awake."  This tune borrows unapologetically from Sevendust's book, combining funky metal rhythms with sustained chorus melodies.

"Let Your Guard Down" caps off the EP with some nicely layered guitars courtesy of axemasters, Mark Beckenhauer and Eric Whitney.  Its badass soft interlude that explodes into the final chorus demonstrates that Arson City has some serious songwriting chops.

Yes, this release is short.  But at least it leaves you wanting more rather than being glad it's already over.

When a singer departs one band and joins another, it is almost impossible not to draw some comparisons and we'll submit to that temptation here.  Sure, Arson City's self-titled and independently released EP isn't quite as slickly-produced as the major label effort of Emphatic.  But the music is powerful and Wilson's vocals are definitely strong and distinctive, catapulting this new quintet to a pretty exciting debut.

With time, Arson City seems poised to burn their name into the consciousness of those constantly on the lookout for some fiery modern rock.