When my ears first beheld Set Adrift, the recently released EP from Halifax, Nova Scotia's Last Call Chernobyl, my first thought was "Oh great!" Sarcastically. My first impression was a vision. A vision of the band bouncing on stage in synchronicity to the syncopated rhythms. I wasn't entirely wrong but I will admit I was a bit harsh. I'm not going to make any grand proclamations of amazingness but I'm not going to throw them under the bus either. The main weapon LCC utilizes is the aforementioned syncopation. That stuttery chug-a-chug approach is used by a plethora of bands but it's not without it's merits. It's a highly effective tool for whipping a crowd into a slammin' pit. However, it is also accompanied by arm-spinning and karate moves. Something I still can't wrap my head around. The difference maker for me, and what prompted me to give my time to writing this review, is the lack of self-indulgent, masturbatory guitar wankery prevalent in other bands of this ilk. I hear it all too often. Yes, you can play every note there is all in one song. So.Fucking.What. That's not to say guitarist Matt Moulton (Not the New York Islander. That's Moulson.)is a hack. Far from it. At times, the all too brief melodies he plays have reminded me of the likes of Satriani and Vai. Some of the songs I heard from their previous EP have reinforced that feeling. Let this guy loose and he could shred. The rhythm section of bassist Jason Szeto and drummer Josh Pellerine are a tight tandem providing a solid base for screamer Kyle Mahar to shred his vocal chords over. His two-pronged death growl/screech approach can sound awkward at times but it's still not something that will totally turn me off.
Set Adrift might not be the most original or most engaging thing you'll hear this week but try as you might, the catchiness will find a way to bury itself in your brain stem. It's presence there might even go so far as to induce random use of garden tools or axe handles as makeshift guitars. Not that I....um.. the other day..or..fine you caught me! (I actually broke my axe slamming it into a log in unison to one of the songs. Then used the handle as a guitar.) So if you're into some brutal breakdowns (and I can't argue with the abrasive tone either) with some added flair and bad cop/bad cop vocals you could do a lot worse than Last Call Chernobyl. In fact, I'd rather listen to Set Adrift than many of the bands LCC lists as influences. How's that for praise! The crazy thing is, when I started this review, I thought I would just slam the band, but they turned it back around on me. Just don't expect me to "dance" to it.
Set Adrift is available now from Diminished Fifth Records.