I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by the ever-growing stack of albums on my desk to review. I honestly didn’t even know where to start this morning when I found myself with a couple extra hours so I closed my eyes and grabbed at one blindly. After cleaning up the mess I had made from failing the blind game of CD Jenga, I found myself sitting with Messer’s self-titled debut album staring me in the face. The album artwork really did nothing to help me predict my journey. A bit mechanical looking with a photo of the band wearing all black and lists of lyrics that seemed to be all over the place, I slid it into my CD player bright eyed and bushy tailed, just waiting to see where this journey was going to take me.
“Throw it Away” starts this album off in a bit of a mysterious way. A sound that clearly matches the mechanical look of the cover, it definitely intrigued me with my first listen. About a minute in, the song really starts to take shape and as the vocals kick in, you start to get a feel for what this album will be about. To say I was intrigued the first time I listened to this opening track would be an understatement. A little mechanical feeling from the intro and then straight up radio rock during the chorus but then a little heavier during other parts, this song is all over the place and it was clear to see that this whole album would be like that. Messer is a band that refuses to be put into a box and that’s why I am beyond happy this debut album came across my desk.
The second track starts off with this mysterious mechanical sound that “Throw it Away” seemed to have but there’s a new sense of intensities that happens when the guitars kick in. Definitely heavier than the first track, “Everything Beautiful” had a whole new groove than the first track but is still just as catchy and still just as intriguing. Vocalist Dereak Messer’s voice instantly becomes the star of this track along with many of the other tracks on this release. The amount of talent and the different forms his voice seems to take without strain or feeling out of place is truly impressive.
“Fight of My Life” starts with a chant like cadence that is quickly replaced by that interesting and amazing voice of Derek’s. With a solid drum beat behind, this is one of those songs that makes you want to pump your fist and has you unknowingly nodding your head to the beat. Infectious, heavy but still approachable, and catchy, “Fight of My Life” is a song full of power. The same could be said for “Still Better Off” but there’s a sense of sadness and darkness in “Still Better Off”. A song with lyrics about a break-up if taken literally (you really never know what a song is about unless you’re the one that wrote it), this track shows a sensitive side to this band that you can hear throughout the rest of this eleven track album although hidden in a world of heavy drums and chugging guitars.
The next track “Lay Down Your Heart” expands on this heartbreakingly beautiful sound that was introduced on “Still Better Off”. Definitely a bit slower tempo and quieter, there’s this undeniable sense of energy which is hard to pull off on a ballad-like track like this. A break-up song for those in the radio rock scene, I see the mass appeal in this song musically and lyrically. It definitely is stunning and, again, shows a sign of Messer that you don’t quite see coming from the first couple of tracks on this album.
I love the way that this album goes from the somber vibe of “Lay Down Your Heart” right into the anthemic sound of “Make This Life”. One of the most powerful songs on this album, this one fixes any heartbreak you may have been reminded of while listening to “Lay Down Your Heart”. The stunningly beautiful voice Dereak had in the past song is replaced by something still just as beautiful but a bit more sinister. The chorus of this song is one of those choruses that instantly gets stuck in your head. The dragging chug of the guitar against the stadium-quality drum sound, this song is definitely going to be one of the songs that shoots these guys up to stardom if it lands in the right hands.
The album continues with this crazy amount of energy in “Simple Man”. A bit faster and more drum-heavy, I love how this song sound different than the previous six tracks yet is still so clearly Messer. I know I’m jumping the gun here but the final track on this album is an acoustic version of “Simple Man”. Having both versions on the same album is definitely a well thought out plan and honestly, on first listen, I didn’t catch these were the same songs until about half way through and that’s only because I caught the lyrics. This just proves the sheer amount of talent in this group. The fact that they can play the same song twice on an album in completely different styles making them feel like completely different songs. Bravo!
Following the plugged in version of “Simple Man” is “Save Myself”. Another song that seems to be about love and love lost, there’s a driving force to this track that definitely makes it pass by in the blink of an eye. Again, this is one of those songs that has a larger than life sound that I could easily see an arena opening up for one of the bigger radio rock groups out there. And again, just like waves in the ocean, the album goes from the anthemic stadium rock sound to a much softer and more love-song like vibe with “One More Time”. The waves that this album goes through makes it an album that you can’t listen to just once. It moves along quicker than you may like just due to the constant movement in tempo and vibe. It’s one of those records that, regardless of what mood you’re in or what’s going on in your life, there’s a song for you here and this band is here to help you through all the times, both good and bad.
“Whiskey” closes out this album with a sense of power (Well, there’s still the acoustic version of “Simple Man” but I cheated and listened to that earlier). A rebellious song that makes you want to grab a drink and push some people around in a pit a wee bit, there’s an intensity to this song while keeping a light-hearted vibe about it. The vocals are raspy enough to make them feel like “bad boy” lyrics but they are still approachable and never quite reach the growl that you subconsciously keep bracing for. Following the power song that is “Whiskey” is the beautiful and haunting acoustic version of “Simple Man” (which I’ve already gushed over once so I won’t do it again).
I may not have known where my journey was going to go when I popped this album in and I’m still not sure where all it took me. A brilliant mix of too many genres to list all wrapped up in a bow creativity and personality, this is a gem an of album and will definitely be in my car for a little bit.
My Favorite Track(s): “Make This Life”; “Whiskey”
Chances Of Getting A Noise Complaint While Listening To In An Apartment: 7.5 out of 10
Nod-ability: 11 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artemis and Autumn were in my room probably destroying something
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 7.1 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 4.1 out of 5
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