REVIEW: Crobot – Feel This

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More often than not, the profile text on the landing page of a band’s website is laced with an excess of superlatives that don’t really mean anything, so that it comes off almost as yet another poorly written ad copy, honed to perfection according to the latest catchwords of corporate branding. The American hard-rockers, CROBOT, dance to a different drumbeat; the first paragraph in the profile text is so spot on that I think I need to quote it here, in full. So, here goes, ”Riff monsters CROBOT conjures up the kind of rock’n’roll that has grooves so powerful they throw you around the room and hooks high enough to shake the heavens. They take the sweet-sounding nectar of the gods and pour it down your throat until you’re wailing along like a banshee.” You see, after the first few spins of their latest studio effort, “Feel This,” to be released on June 3rd, 2022, via Mascot Records, I really don’t have anything to add. The outing comes jam-packed with hard rock, laced with subtle grunge vibes of the SOUNDGARDEN variety, and the quality control is just as top-notch as on those revered classics from the 1990s. These hard-rock ruffians know darn well how to groove! Maybe I should go and get my old and worn-out thrift-store flannel shirt and wear it while blasting this album, you know, to fully get into the right mood. While the riffs and general atmosphere lack that drug-induced lethargy and lysergic visions of those vintage grunge offerings, “Feel This” pays nice homage to that golden period, with a slightly modernized hard-rock touch, in a somewhat similar spirit to how this one spectral grunge outfit passed the hard-rock torch of LED ZEPPELIN forward some 25 years ago.

The album kicks off with a high-octane riff monster, aptly titled “Electrified.” The stop-and-go riffs really do put the roll back into the rock in nothing short of a splendid way. There’s is something endearingly vintage about them as well. I mean vintage, like the 1970s and 1980s. The vocalist, Brandon Yeagley, belts out lyrics with quite a convincing hard-rock rasp, by turns channeling the ghosts of grunge and classic rock. So, all things considered, the album sets off on rather good footing.

“Golden” is actually a soaring, beautiful homage to the talismanic godfather of grunge, Chris Cornell, down to the song’s somewhat SOUNDGARDEN-like arrangement. On the same vibe, the second track, “Dizzy,” traverses deep in the grunge waters too, maybe with a bit more steady footing in the slightly modernized AUDIOSLAVE-vibed hard-rock realm. Needless to say, what with me being a genuine, post-modern-sleazy 1990s kid, the album sold me on CROBOT‘s hard-rock concept already at this point. By the looks of their album streams, I’m not the only one. The band’s 2019 outing, “Motherbrain,” has surpassed thirty million streams.

Obviously, every time the band takes off on a seismic grunge tangent, I am spiraling towards the heavens. One of the standout tracks in this respect is “Holy Ghost,” but on repeated listens, “Without Wings” appears to do the trick too. That is not to say that the other tracks do not kick you in the butt. They do. In fact, “Livin’ on the Street” does it by channeling the ghost of LED ZEPPELIN with a distinct rock ‘n’ roll edge and, after the ballady first verse, “Set You Free” gears up on a thick, rip-soaring hard-rock groove reminiscent of bands such as GODSMACK and SHINEDOWN rather brilliantly. ”Dance with the Dead” even throws in a bit of a disco beat! The backing choir chanting “Yeah, yeah, yeah” might trigger even subtle flashbacks of some of those revered, vintage KISS anthems.

In their own words, “human nature is threaded throughout the album. ‘Feel This’ very well may point to our biggest strength of all, our ability to feel emotion (for better or worse).” Once again, I have nothing to add here. Like some of the best hard-rock offerings of late, CROBOT‘s latest effort is strangely uplifting in spite of all the psyche-probing lyrics. By doing so, the album fits neatly beside, say, TREMONTI‘s latest studio outing, Marching in Time,” while the thick grunge frosting justifies its place among the timeless Seattle classics just as well. Befittingly, the closing track, “Staring Straight Into the Sun,” is a slow-crushing grunge riffathon that will bring closure to the album by bringing a smile to your face. So, the album has done its job pretty damn well.

Written by Jani Lehtinen

Tracklist

  1. Electrified
  2. Dizzy
  3. Set You Free
  4. Better Times
  5. Golden
  6. Without Wings
  7. Livin’ on the Streets
  8. Into the Fire
  9. Dance with the Dead
  10. Holy Ghost
  11. Never Break Me
  12. Staring Straight Into the Sun

Lineup

Brandon Yeagley – vocals

Chris Bishop – guitars

Tim Peugh – bass

Dan Ryan – drums

Label

Mascot Records

Links

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