Thursday, June 16, 2011

From Out of Nowhere #2: Throttlerod

I can distinctly remember my introduction to Throttlerod.  It was mid-2004, my last year of university, and as often happened when I had no classes/nothing better to do and my friends were otherwise occupied I trudged down the hill to Real Groovy in search of entertainment.

Spend enough time in music stores and you develop the ability to mentally filter out the store music - at least the stuff you don't want to hear.  Thankfully I had that ability turned off on this particular day because a new (to me) and intriguing band was playing on Real Groovy's PA.  I can distinctly remember thinking at the time that the guitars sounded a lot like Kyuss and I think that's still pretty true - they're thick, heavy and fuzzy.

And of course the other slight Kyuss similarity is that singer Matt Whitehead has a distinctive and somewhat raspy voice - not to the same extent as John Garcia but still interesting and unique.

To be totally fair to both bands, I think that's where the similarities end.  Throttlerod tend to deal in direct, aggressive hard rock with a pretty varied array of more subtle influences - depending which album you're listening to there are grunge, Southern, hardcore, stoner (well, they ARE on Small Stone Records), and classic rock influences.

And that's another of the great joys of Throttlerod.  Listen to a couple of Throttlerod tracks at random (say, Hum and Borrowed Chair) and you could easily think they were by two separate bands.

I guess it's just one of those cases where you have a band who are playing stuff they like, for the hell of it, and therefore they'll change their tack as and when the mood takes them.  It's honest, and you gotta respect them for it.

Anyway, the first album I got was Hell and High Water, which is the band's second, and which I bought because I asked the record store guy what was playing and he said 'this'.  To this day it is still the ONLY album I have purchased because I heard it playing in a record store.  There are some pretty strong Southern and blues influences on this record, coupled with some very tight songwriting and a very direct rock attitude throughout.  Plus it's immediately catchy and enjoyable - maybe one of the reasons I picked up on it in the first place.

Following that I got hold of their debut, Eastbound and Down, which is accurately described by two words: beer-drinking and hell-raising.  One of the great highlights of this album which doesn't pop up quite so much on later records is the drumming, which has rapid-fire fills coming thick and fast throghout.  Swaller is my personal favourite track here but there's a lot to like - even if it's not quite as consistent as their other albums.

There was a very cool mostly-acoustic EP that surfaced somewhere along the way too - Starve the Dead.  For a band that rocks so hard across most of their material, this was a real change of pace and a very well-executed, genuine one too.  But it's hard to find anything Throttlerod have done that isn't genuine.

In my opinion the highlight in Throttlerod's discography is 2006's Nail.  When it comes to records that just sounds supremely pissed-off from start to finish, Nail is head and shoulders above anything else I've heard (though its successor comes close)- simply a mind-bogglingly good demonstration of hard rock.  And it has some wonderfully shouty choruses (e.g. on the title track).  It packs a huge amount into its 10 tracks, my favourite of which is closer Indian Head which begins with a typically monstrous riff and ends by bringing the whole album to a positively stunning crescendo finish.  Plus, there's some clever time signature shifts that bely the raw anger of the record.

2009 saw the release of Pig Charmer.  Style-wise it's closest to Nail in the Throttlerod discography (and almost as angry) but there's some obvious influences from the likes of Helmet and even Black Flag that weren't previously apparent - and it certainly sees the band evolving some more technical time signature trickery too.  There's a couple of absolutely, totally glorious rock moments to boot.  When the bridge riff kicks in (at 2:24 of the video above), it's essentially the musical equivalent of being smacked in the face with a slab of granite, only fun.  Which they subsequently match with an equally monstrous piece of riffmongery in Buffalo too.  I enjoy this album a lot - almost as much as I like Nail.

I'm not sure what's on the cards next for Throttlerod - the internet doesn't really seem to be their thing.  It'd certainly be nice to see another album - but in any event I'm grateful to Real Groovy for the introduction.

Oh, and they did a GREAT cover of Black Betty too:

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