Up and coming rockers Gorilla Riot have finally unleashed their full-length debut. They have garnered a significant amount of press over the years for a new band showcasing how solid their songs and marketing have been. I have enjoyed what I heard from the band in the past, but this was the first time I really dug my teeth into their songs. With a fusion of modern hard rock, some grunge, and the songwriting of classic rock, they have clearly found a sound that would be as comfortable on modern radio as it would be on the classic rock stations or stations catering to bands from the ’90s. They also have crafted their own sound and avoid being a watered-down version of something you have already heard.
Kicking things off with instrumental ‘Riders I’ allows the band to slowly bring you into the record with the expanding guitar riff burrowing into your memory. ‘Riders II’ follows with the band combining the likes of Black Sabbath, Brother Cane, and the more classic rock feeling period of Corrosion of Conformity. The beat here gets the headbanging and with the band featuring three guitars, there will never be a shortage of guitar… or air guitar if you are like me. The vocal delivery of Arjun Bhishma suits the music perfectly as it carries power and a bluesy register. A hard-driving blues riff carries ‘Still Doing Time’ forward with the chorus slowing it down a notch to deliver a killer vocal hook. Cry of Love from the ’90s comes to mind here if they were heavier with James Degnen (bass) and Dave Thomas (drums) laying down the perfect foundation and groove. ‘Mind Your Head’ features some excellent guitar work by Bhishma, Liam Henry, and Charly T. The chorus takes on a more laid back hypnotic approach, but the song doesn’t quite carry the initial momentum of the album for me.
‘Half Cut’ gets the momentum going for me again with the heavy riff and beat getting the headbanging again. This is a stoner anthem in waiting as the groove gets plenty of space in the song to wrap its way around your brain. The guitar solo cuts through the rhythm and builds into the perfect end of the song. The mix on the album allows the lead guitar in ‘Young Guns’ to sit right on top of the rhythm guitar and really provide a lot of texture to these songs. This would sound perfectly at home on modern rock radio but can also pull in the classic rock listeners. The chorus works so well in part because of the musical hook as well as the vocal hook.
Getting the second half of the album started, ‘Help the Guilty’ is one of my early favorites from the album. The band is perfectly willing to take their time and give the awesome riff plenty of space with the middle section of the song turning into a quiet section with some tremendous guitar work before slowly building back into the monster. The band strikes the perfect balance and executes this brilliantly. ‘Reckless Till Death’ continues to showcase the band’s strength as the up-tempo blues gives way to an excellent catchy chorus. Gorilla Riot clearly put a lot of work into their songwriting and take the time to get things just like how they want them. A doomy riff opens ‘Black Heart Woman’ before it transitions into a heavy slower riff that could shake a mountain. The chorus is fairly simpler but delivers because of the musical muscle underneath it. My favorite moment is when the song’s tempo suddenly increases and the guitar solo gets time to shine before one final chorus ends the song.
Starting the last quarter of the album, ‘Prayer for Suckers’ feels a little more laid back with the vocals reminding me a bit of Alice in Chains. The guitar solo really gets a showcase in the mix with this song being another of my early favorites. ‘Beat Your Bite’ shows the band’s ability to exercise restraint and let a song slowly build. This serves as another highlight from the album and would be another made for radio single other than its near six-minute length, but it would be a crime to edit out one second of the song. Ending the album with ‘Chuggin,’ Gorilla Riot end with a hard-hitting song that makes sure everything has been leveled by the end of this journey.
Gorilla Riot has crafted a full-length debut that connects with me and will receive many plays in the years to come. They have clearly spent a lot of time on crafting their songs, and, while the songs maybe a little longer on average, there is no fat on the bones here. I would not be surprised to see them start crossing over to the mainstream, and it would be a case of the masses getting it right behind these guys. ‘Peach’ might not be the first word that comes to mind for this kind of band, but they have delivered a killer album.
Buy ‘Peach’ Here
Author: Gerald Stansbury