Review Summary: Fun, groovy metal with rockin' riffs, guitar squeals, and cool solos. A very basic pleasure. Listen to this while having a beer with your buddies.
Jameson is a relatively unknown band from Hollywood, CA. With song names like Insane-o-Flex (a workout machine from the TV show Aqua Teen Hunger Force), Get to the Choppah, and Rocktimus Prime, you can tell this band wants to have fun. Just go check out their Myspace and you’ll see that they’re obviously not taking themselves too seriously. They have a fresh take on metal, creating a sound for themselves that already feels developed and mature on their debut. They combine a sprinkle of hardcore, some thrash, and plenty of groove. You don’t have to read it on their Myspace to know that they are greatly influenced by Pantera. Some will give them the metalcore label because they have a few breakdowns and their vocalist is a midrange growler, but I don’t think that is a fitting description whatsoever.
Breakdowns are used sparingly on this album and implemented well. There’s no “breakdown just for the sake of having a breakdown” on this record, songwriting comes first for these guys. And…holy hell, what is that I hear? Is that the bass guitar?! That’s right, the bass guitar is easily audible on this album and it adds a nice thick undertone to the guitars. He does deviate from usual bass duties, branching off a little bit now and then, but he mostly sticks to emulating the rhythm guitar. The drums aren’t anything special but they do add to the music in a positive way with some nice double bass work. He doesn’t overuse the technique like many other metal drummers do and the kick drums (I’m relieved to say) have a nice thud to them. Too many bands have the clicky typewriter sound taking away any thundering power they could have. “Matt Bomb,” as he calls himself, is a quirky vocalist that fits well into this band of thrashing, beer chugging metalheads. His growl can be grating on first listen; it took me a few listens to get used them but his style gets the job done, throwing in a couple WOO’s and some brief cleanly sung pieces throughout the album (Note: there are no metalcore structures with the “harsh vocals, clean vocal chorus, harsh vocals, clean vocal chorus” formula). The small amount of clean singing is actually a highlight of the album for me and I wish he had done this in a few more songs. A good example of this is on Blood of the Queen where at just over forty seconds into the song it slows down into an interlude. Matt comes in with the clean vocals, then it builds back up and he transitions back into the harsh vocals. These little things he does help spice up the album. The production is actually very clean and polished but not overproduced, as it still sounds warm and organic.
The guitars are obviously the focal point and most of the time they’re spewing out rockin’ riffs throughout mid-paced songs. Just listen to Return to Mexico and you’ll see how fun Down for the Count can be. Other times they can be quite crushing as evidenced on Insane-o-Flex. Fleshbeast and The Boston Tea Party have more of a metalcore feel to them. Guitar solos are well placed and are never boring to listen to because they seem to flow out naturally and stay relevant to the song. There are songs and riffs that tend to blend into each other, and the variety in the style of riffage is somewhat lacking, but all of the songs are decent at worst (even if a few of them get dragged on slightly longer than they need to be).
This is a new band everyone should be keeping an eye on, as they have a lot of potential because they just plain make kick-ass, guitar driven music. I’ve been anticipating their next release after hearing this in 2008 and they told me that they’re releasing another one this year, so I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.
Blood of the Queen
Lord Humongous (Greetings From)
Return to Mexico
(I also recommend listening to their Michael Jackson cover of Beat It because it's f***ing awesome, here's the link)