Sandrider members, Jon Weisnewski (guitar/vocals), Jesse Roberts (bass/vocals), and Nat Damm (drums and arguably the best band poster artist) blast building blocks of sludgy grunge, The Jesus Lizard aggression and sparkles of metal culture. For a band labeled ‘the best in the universe’ (Bandcamp page), they’re not entirely wrong.
Armada, the third installment from Sandrider (Good to Die Records), is an outsized record of brutal magnetism and seismic tugs, capable of seducing even the most hesitant flannel donning, trucker hat youth.
The brawny opener, “Hollowed”, crawls like a guttural and crusty Soundgarden. The savage “Industry” pummels like a wayward juggernaut rolling strikes in a bowling alley. Weisnewski’s soloing streaks and Roberts/Damm’s scorching rhythm sprint into the ranks of head-banging gold. “Creep” pastes an opening riff reeking of Raw Power era Stooges and Metallica’s Seek and Destroy, but Sandrider doesn’t seem interested in paying homage to influences, as their hammering grind obliterates any noted past.
The trio, unflinching in their quest to overpower your speakers, concoct fire and brimstone in a yogurt so thick, only a fork forged in Valhalla will suffice. The classic open hi-hat swish, spectral riffs and dual vocal scraps on “Banger” illuminate Sandrider as forbearers to such weaponry. “Brambles” unwraps approachable black metal growls and cloaked evil through grandiose build-ups and choruses, while straining out fresh drip tempos and spirited lifts.
“Lineage” wields a stellar intro into Side B, equipping the trio for a victorious battle against any subterranean dark lord amid soaring guitar solos and insistent snare pounding; inhuman fills and heroic riffs soften the final two minutes, revealing a depth of fluid reflection. Yet, the sweptback guitar lines and thrusting pace on “Lungs” reveals Sandrider at its best; locked into a groove and pushing the sound into annihilation. Album ender “Dogwater” shadows this proven equation in a melodic, testosterone fueled anarchy, climaxing as Weisnewski throat jabs the final words, ‘daaaawwwggg’.
Despite an album of only one-worded song titles, Sandrider has plenty to say. Their on-going smash-craft continues to reach toward a fantastical Armageddon. And for a band silly enough to consider themselves the best in the universe, Armada’s afterglow of action and follow through are enough to convince me it’s not, not possible.