The state of rock music seems to be a favorite talking point in news media, place your quotations marks where you see fit. Of course, the usual trite sentiment that “rock is dead”, is usually parroted by the kind of people who wouldn’t go to a rock show if they were paid for it. At the same time, heavier metal acts such as SLIPKNOT and LAMB OF GOD, as well as the usual classic stalwarts, dominate most discussions of rock music. So it was a great relief to put on ARCHER’S Culling the Weak, out now on Metalville Records, and be treated to a consistent, excellent hard rocking album with no pretensions of “brutality” or heavier-than-thou aspirations.
The disc opens with “Belief” and “Hurl The Cross”, a one-two shot that starts things off with great bouncing riffs and a mid-paced swing, bolstered by excellent solos. Next up, the title track immediately establishes itself as my favorite on the record. A great bass groove and a little faster-paced drumming make for quite a memorable jam, and comparisons I’ve seen noted between vocalist Dylan Rose’s voice and that of Dave Mustaine and/or James Hetfield start making sense. The next track, “World Of One”, brings loads of great guitar licks and my favorite vocal performance so far.
To be honest, though, it does for me exactly what the previous three tracks had done, so I had to pause for a moment and reflect. Frankly, the first half of this album doesn’t leave me a lot to talk about. The songs are admittedly similar, but they’re all excellent. Any one of them would make a great single, and they each got played over and over during the writing of this review without any hint of stagnation.
With that being said, I dove into the next two songs determined to focus on the big picture and explain what makes this album so enjoyable. The easy answer is that, taking the thrash singer comparisons one step further, this is the kind of music that thrash bands seemed to be trying to make en-masse in the 90’s. The production from industry legend Mike Clink, who also has Rust In Peace and Appetite For Destruction to his name (and was fortunate enough to be replaced on …And Justice For All, an album that ended up sounding like Iron Man falling down the stairs) results in a sound I would not hesitate to call perfect for a rock album. The bass drum clicks rather than thuds, which I personally don’t like, but I can imagine sounds incredible live.
ARCHER benefits from one of the major traits of a three-piece band, where every member has something going on without making the music too busy. The music is straightforward enough to rock out to but with enough nuance to reward repeated listens. Check the bass break in “Day That Never Came”, followed by yet another killer solo. Culling of the Weak may suffer from a lack of variety, especially in the song structures, but on the other hand, there’s not a single weak track. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a hard rocking album that will hold up to many listens, and I personally can’t wait to catch ARCHER on the road soon.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Culling the Weak”, “King For A Day”, “Day That Never Came”