A quick glance at Riksha’s Facebook profile told me that I might be very interested in what they had to offer. Not only because of bands they list as influences (Tool, Pantera, Mudvayne and American Head Charge to name a few) but also because they have named their sound “Throg” (a combination of Thrash and Prog), and this kind of humour amuses me greatly.
A quick listen through a few tracks of their previous releases tells me that this is an accurate description of the band, and the influences are certainly identifiable. So, that new album they’ve released then...
Generally what happens as bands go through album cycles is they hone their craft. They “find their sound”. They get tighter and more experimental and the production jobs improve on their albums. The same with the song writing. I’m here to confirm that this is very much the case with ‘Five Stages of Numb’. It is, to use a term that I believe is cool these days, “Hench”.
Palmer (Vocals), Cody Hess (guitars), Kevin Bronson (Bass), and Christian ‘Tron’ McCutchan (Drums) have delivered a 7 track release that sways between groove infested riffery and soaring melody seamlessly. There are some big riffs, intensely low tunings, some unusual time signatures swings and huge chorus’ all in one place.
‘Departure Eminent’ is an introductory track, so we’ll dive straight into the title track ‘Five Stages of Numb’, which immediately breaks in to a low tuned, head bobbing riff (the kind of head bobbing you usually do to After The Burial or Periphery riffs, more chicken necking than headbanging). Palmers vocals are very Dez Fafara meets Max Cavalera in the verses, whilst giving out to an almost Maynard James Keenan croon in the choruses. I love a vocalist with the ability to change between singing and screaming. Palmer does that without issue here. The Drum pattern matches up with the rhythm of the riff giving it that bouncy vibe.
‘Shovel It’ has a haunting piano melody to open it before giving way to a proper thrash metal riff. McCutchan’s drumming is really prominent on this track, driving it along in the verses and holding back with a solid pattern in the choruses. Again there is the screamed verses/melodic chorus thing going on before a solo kicks in near the end of the song. I have stated before that in Metal there is always a danger of a guitarist going OTT on the solo, but this short refrain is tasteful before the song stops dead.
‘Skelton Rain Dance’ sounds like very early Tool. The switch that occurs in terms of vocal placement on this track makes it seem more melodic than it is. This is good, because next up is ‘Banging Danger’ which is the heaviest track on this album. Lyrically, I have not a single clue what it is about, but there is plenty to bang your head to here and a lyric video available if you want to try and work it out!
‘Repo Man’ is another interlude before closer ‘Save Me’ jars in with its dissonant chords and tapping riffs before a riff so low tuned it’s barely audible brings back the wind milling. The riffs here are very God Forbid, more Metalcore than anything else in the 5 full tracks on offer, and also sludgier than anything else. There is a 2 minute respite of quieter musical work and melodic vocals before an epic solo ends things for this album.
In summary, whilst I enjoyed this “album” (it isn’t an album for me, it’s an EP or a mini album but that’s down to opinion and doesn’t detract from the music on offer) only people as eclectic a musical taste as me may enjoy it. It isn’t a record that will win Riksha a lot of new fans, but it certainly is one that their current crop of supporters will thoroughly enjoy.
LONG LIVE THROG!
Five Stages of Numb
Skeleton Rain Dance
Find out more about Riksha on the following links: