May 11, 2006

CD Review: Mower - Not for You

Mower, curious name for a curious band. I have listened through this disk a few times now, and each time I come away with mixed feelings. I haven't really decided if I like them. I know, this should be more about if they are good rather than if I like them or not. The two generally go hand in hand, and this case is no different from any other.

There is no denying that the band is seething with energy. The music is on the verge of boiling over. I can only imagine what they must be like live. If they are able to convey this extreme energy level on a mere recorded disk, to see them unleashed on a stage would definitely be an experience.

Let me get my problems out of the way before going any further. Energy can go a long way towards winning me over to a mediocre band, but this is no mediocre band. Mower has a sound that, aside from my overstating of the energy, has a sound of talent, an aura of raw ability. The problem is that the sound is also unfocused. With a little more direction and focus the energy and talent could be focused into one deadly laser of raw metal.

Throughout Not for You I heard influences from a number of other bands. Whether or not they are actual influences or figments of my imagination, I cannot say, but they are apparent to me. Listening through, I heard other bands like Corrosion of Conformity, Black Sabbath, Testament, Anthrax, and even 311. Strange, I know, but they were there.

Mower is led by two lead vocalists in Chris Sheerin and Dominic Moscatello. The duo work well together trading off lines effectively adding another dimension to their game over other similar acts. Creating the biggest part of their sound is guitarist Matt Wannamaker, he has a very crunchy fuzzed out sound that is raw and in your face. The rhythm section is comprised of Chris McCredie on bass, his sound is not as up front as some bands, but he adds a nice low end with a few moments in the spotlight, and Ryan Toth, on drums. Toth has had a couple of tours with the band, and provides some dynamic thunder behind the skins.

The disk opens with "American Psycho," which urges you "If you know one thing, know yourself, cause you can't know someone else" just before it launches into some jackhammer hardcore with a subtle undertone of melody. That leads into the groove chugga riff of "Road Rage" which is a decent but brief cut, although it does have a little breakdown towards the end.

"10x10" opens with a tom drum progression while the guitar riff slowly builds up steam. This is a track that I can imagine creating a seething pit when played live. That is followed by a very Corrosion of Conformity-esque "The End." It has a very sludgey groove in its brief 1:15 runtime. That groove continues into the beginning of "Look Away" before it switches to something more akin to older Testament, evidenced by the quick staccato employed by Dominic Moscatello, sounding very much like Chuck Billy.

The middle section of the album opens with one of the best tracks on Not for You, "Broken Hands." It opens with a strong Deftones like vibe, before heading off in its own direction. It is one of the more accessible tracks, it lowers the overall heaviness while retaining a decent edge.

Highlights of the rest of the album include the Black Sabbathy "General Admission," and "U Turn" which features a very mellow turn with some walking bass in the background. Another interesting song is the title track, which opens with a fuzzybass groove leading into one of their more original sounding cuts. To demonstrate their range is the slow bass driven, reggae tinged "LA Riot."

I have to mention something that really put a damper on the enjoyment I had derived from the album, that is the final closing cut, a horrendous cover of The Mamas and the Papas "California Dreaming." I have to be honest, I thought it was awful, it just did not work in their interpretation. Valiant effort, but no thanks.

Bottomline. This was a frustrating disk. I sense so much talent here, and could see these guys putting out a classic down the line, if they gain some focus. A good producer could take these guys to new heights. That is not to say this is a bad disk, it is good and after a few listens really digs itself into your skull. Looking for something with talent and a touch of originality? Start here.

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