Friday, November 25, 2016

RedBelt - Beautiful Surround

RedBelt - Beautiful Surround 

RedBelt sure loves uptempo punky rockers. Their first release, Beautiful Surround, is packed with an assortment of souped up ragers that come flying out of the gate and hit listeners like a jackhammer. They have a strong melodic streak that keeps the song popping and jumping from the first note on and those melodic strengths are a compelling juxtaposition with the fiery attitude that they manifest. Half, at least, of the songs on their debut utilize this approach, but there’s nothing wrong with that. The band’s debut is likely a little too long for even the relatively short length of the album’s individual tracks, but they keep the energy level dialed up throughout and longtime fans of rock and punk alike will find much to like about their sound. This four piece from Milwaukee, Wisconsin brandishes considerable musical firepower from the first song on and their signature mix of three part harmonies and melody augmenting the songs clearly reveals them to be a band who hopes to be around for years to come. 

“American Mercy” is the album’s first high point. This is an impressive confluence of punk, melodic rock, and straight up classic rock. Lead guitarist Mike Mann proves time and again on Beautiful Surround that he could lift any rock band up with the fury and skill he has as a player. He has an excellent partner on the instrument with second guitarist and lead singer Kevin Brown. Brown’s voice is more than adequate to handle these songs single-handedly, but the addition of two other backing singers, Mann and bassist Ricky Ganiere, only further strengthens Beautiful Surround. “Shoot It All the Time” brings slide guitar and acoustic into the mix. These additions alone help the song stand out from the remaining dozen, but Brown’s vocal and the thunderous rhythm section performance give it even more muscular grit.  

“Sweet Release” is one of the hard-hitting punk rock songs on the album and has a skeletal power that explodes at crucial points and peaks nicely at various points during the song’s length. The intensity dies down a little for the song “Cold”. It’s the most obviously melodic effort on Beautiful Surround, particularly its vocal melody, but it doesn’t give up any of its gravitas to achieve that effect.  “30 Seconds”, unquestionably, is the most raucous reference to alternative and punk rock on the album. It clocks in at just under three minutes and there’s no wasted motion at all in the band’s efforts to hit their audience right between the eyes. “Throw Away” is their most fleshed out, fully developed effort in this area and nicely incorporates alt-rock, classic, and punk rock posturing in a single song better than any track before or after. The final track “Hard Light” doesn’t lean as heavily on Mann and Brown’s axe work and, instead, the rhythm section ends Beautiful Surround with a different sort of intensity than what the band has offered us on the preceding tracks. The album could be a 2-3 songs shorter for an even greater impact, but RedBelt are going to linger in memories regardless if they overreach a little here.  

8 out of 10 stars 

Robert Fulford

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