DROIDS ATTCK! – Fatal/Error
(2006 Crustacean Records)
From the very first moments of Droids Attack’s new CD Fatal/Error, the swelling, howling guitar tones filtering each other into oblivion lend it a palpable sense of maturation and cohesion. Droids Attack have found the space in which they thrive and they are exploiting every last bit of intensity from each groove they develop. They push beyond their roots and all three members of this band find the territory they work best both individually and as a unit. Each song is a separate expression of their take on punk-laced pot rock, and while comparisons to Bongzilla are inevitable, their brand of stoner riffage is utterly their own.
“The Lord” lives up to its name, with massive, rolling, tone-drenched passages grinding against and between each other. Drummer Tony Brungraber deftly weaves mutating tempos into structurally strong, significant phrases. The slick guitar solo, supplied by frontman Brad Van, hits right in the pocket with both distinct flavor and a solid finish. And as the final wails of the opening track merge into “Stephen Seagal,” the energy stays high and gets bluesier with shades of Slash flowing into the lead guitar lines and the bass, performed brilliantly by Nate Bush, sitting right in the groove and drawing breath for the whole band.
One of the only issues with the album is that the funny, creative lyrics are difficult to discern through the wall of noise that continues to slam into your face. Take “Dope Smuggler,” for instance. This song was inspired by the band’s trials as they attempted to cross into Canada to play the North by Northeast music conference in Toronto. However, I only know this because the band told me. I can’t really make out the words. But in their defense, the song is fantastic and Van’s vocal performance is a defining element of their sound. Maybe the lyrics aren’t important. But we all know that’s not true.
Each of the eight songs on this disc starts with slamming riffs and gritty fire. The relationship among the instruments, with every bit of space defined by one of the three, never changes. As the album draws to a finish, both “The John Oates Mustache Ride” and “Scythe in the Fire,” the final two tracks of the disc, are used perfectly as a signature on this band’s newest creation. Brungraber’s impeccable work on “Oates” is matched only by the deep, driving bass tone on “Scythe,” which is equaled only by Van’s screaming “Get on your horse and fucking ride!” (also in “Scythe”).
Fatal/Error is one of those albums that truly define a band. Their previous effort may have introduced Droids Attack, but this one elucidates exactly what they are about. As the guitar rolls away in “Scythe” and the album feels momentarily like it’s coming to a close, the riff shoves its way back into your consciousness and the closing guitar solo takes you back up for one more ride. It twirls you around, throws you in the air one last time and then you fall with the trailing tone fading into the background. This phenomenon is emblematic of the entire band: raging and raw and always willing to take you for one last spin.