Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Album Review: The Workhorse III: Closer to Relevance

Sometimes, instead of falling neatly into a predetermined genre, a band decides to focus their energy on just creating great songs, regardless of how they are classified.  This describes Workhorse III, a trio from Philadelphia, who have set about to make an album of infectious tunes, and leave it to listeners and reviewers to figure out how to explain it.  Their self description as "too rock for metal and too metal for rock" suits them well.  

At times I heard punk rock, at other times they were clearly crushing it in the proud lineage of Sabbath.  There were moments when a Motorhead influence seemed clear.  Which is suitable, since Motorhead themselves have often defied categorization.

The dominate theme is songs which, although often containing dark lyrical content, are high energy, catchy, and most of all fun. I listened to it once on my way to work, and already several of the songs were stuck in my head, demanding a second listen on the way home.  In all cases, the riff is king.  It is the prominence of the distorted riff which could earn them a place within metal's hallowed halls.  At the same time there is no denying the strong vocal melodies will also appeal to fans of classic rock.
"What's The Point" , an ironically upbeat tune about recognizing the futility of life without necessarily being nihilistic, is a stand out track on the album.  
Workhorse III
The most powerful song is another genre shifting statement. The final track on the album "I Can't Forget" has a strong 90's alternative vibe to it, almost like a pseudo metal version of Oasis.  This influence, if indeed this was an influence, has produced a masterful Workhorse III song. 

This alternative sound is not typical of the album, which otherwise is far edgier.  It is hard to pin this band down to less than a dozen sound types, a definite strength of the record.

Vocal duties alternate between guitarist Lisa Christ Superstar, also known by her mortal name Lisa Lyne Flynn, and bassist Steve McCarthy.  

I was once told by a sound engineer properly combining male and female vocals is tricky and most bands cannot pull it off.  Workhorse III have combined them seamlessly.  

Further complimenting the bands sound is the emphatic drumming of Eric Perfect, who has made a name for himself as a famous tattoo artist, in addition to his musical prowess.
Closer to Relevance also contains a particularly skillful cover of Def Lepard's "Wasted", again showcasing the diversity of their influences.
One particular lyrical theme crops up in several places throughout the album, a dogged determination to follow a dream, even while realizing failure is the most likely outcome.  This is a theme anyone pursuing the rock-n-roll life can certainly relate to, and you cannot help but root for Closer to Relevance to be the album which brings Workhorse III just that.

Label: Self-Released
Release Date:  December 9, 2016
Genre:  Punk Metal

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