BY STEVE WALKER | Go Venue Magazine – October 20, 2018
Genre: Hard Rock, Alt-Metal, Industrial Punk
Born in Omaha in 2013, Arson City have developed a musically theatrical concept that combines horror and steampunk inside a fantasy world of low down filth. The five members of the band have created alter-ego characters based on the developing urban apocalyptical that is Arson City. The fanbase are included as ´citizens´, and the movement is growing to a cosplay type event at live gigs.
“Hell of a Ride” the new album containing seven tracks and running at 25 minutes is more of an extended EP as oppose to a full album. “The Horror Show” released in 2015 and “Not Coming Home” EP in 2014, are the earlier consistent releases that promote the stage that Arson City use to thematically present their material.
The musical element of the band and for the main purpose of the review is about the style and content of what Arson City have produced. The opening track “Prelude” as an intro sets up the following six tracks with a piano style parody in horror movie style. At the three-quarter point in this short set up track, there is a beautiful guitar sequence that is straight out of an Iron Maiden “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” track. This element and sound is used on other tracks and notes an early significant sound for the band. This intro shifts towards it conclusion and descends with a scraping rhythm into “Hell of a Ride” the title track of the album.
I am reminded of a prog-metal sound due to the industrial feel, this is enhanced due to the keyboard chords using chorus and reverb that thread the tracks together. Some of the sound is similar to Kamelot´s “Ghost Opera” and the theatrics that accompany are from the progressive metal scene.
The vocal has a Chad Kroeger Nickelback quality to it and a mainstream vibe that retains a hard rock stance rather than the slippery slope to Slipknot territory in which the band would be engulfed. There is range and depth and the vocal growl functions well with the patches that lean towards alt-metal.
The drummer has versatility and can interplay with rock and jazz rhythms, this can be heard clearly on “Let´s Go”. The off-beat on the intro to “Pushing Forward” working against the guitar work stretches the listener to keep listening to see where it will go.
The guitarists work well together, the lead features are 80´s born and are pure metal with a scale from mid neck upwards to hyper-riff to finish it off. A good example of this is the “Business as Usual” lead section that is NWOBHM through and through. The rhythm is sturdy and the true guide through each of the tracks on the album.
With many influences, styles and genres, inclusive of scaffolded sound effects that intersperse the tracks, it is busy in the mix and the band work this well.
Stand Out Tracks:
“Hell of a Ride” incites the industrial riot with a melodic and rhythm fueled flow. The storytelling takes the roller coaster of uncertainty to a musical pinnacle. The instrumental drop out to vocal as a bridge section provides the final chorus to continue long after the first listen and the track finishes.
“Separate Ways” is arguably the most commercial track. There is a relatively simple structure and there are sparks of 80´s nostalgia inside a contemporary hard rock track. The vocal scans fluidly, using the range to emote the lyrical peaks.
Arson City are a live band experience, one in which audiences can involve and immerse themselves in the concept and show, in a contemporary and darker “Rocky Horror Show” way. As an album, there is a lot to take in, the splice of genres does work, there is a touch of something for everyone.
With a major label behind the band, it is feasible that the material and status of the band could be improved with the music being used to add value to a season of American Horror Story or for a feature horror movie.
Musically, there is some value to the concept, but the focus is clearly about the show and this is the angle that is where I find value. The band is fundamentally about audience and citizen experience, and it sounds and looks as though you have a lot of fun with the band. Grab the album to take the journey to Arson City and see them live.
- Hell of a Ride
- Business as Usual
- Pushing Forward
- One of These Days
- Let´s Go
- Separate Ways
Band Members are:
Patrick Michael Wilson as The Mayor (lead vocals)
Mark Beckenhauer as The Doctor (rhythm guitar)
Matt DiBaise as The Dealer (lead guitar)
Matt Oliver as The Con (bass)
Matt Denker as The Enforcer (drums)