Review Summary: A marvelous, wickedly entertaining collection of incredible songs, each of which has its own merits and moments that really add to the whole package of this album
CKY are a band that many will never have heard of, or perhaps have experienced one of their songs. That song was 96 Quite Bitter Beings, their hit single that managed to make an appearance on the Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3 video game that earned the song a large amount of exposure, although limited to a certain audience and most likely not making said listener any more aware about the band themselves, merely being a nod to their nostalgic youthful days. However, those who never endeavored to discover more of this band are severely missing out, as what is found when one listens to their debut album, the one that spawned said song, is one of the most enjoyably refreshing and unique packages in modern rock music.
The first thing that is noticed when one first accesses the album on whatever format they chose to listen to the album through is the pounding incredibly catchy opening riff to 96 Quite Bitter Beings, and the intricate guitar work behind it. This is not intricate in the sense of being difficult to play and nor is it played at the crazy speeds of some artists, but is intricate in the sense that it is a fast riff that involves a lot of notes in a short space of time, something not found too often in the Killers dominated commercially-oriented rock scene of today. However, as you listen to the rest of the album, it becomes apparent that this is not just a feature for one great song but carries over across the rest of it in the form of the cool sounding riffs that open up Rio Bravo and Disengage The Simulator, and My Promiscuous Daughter and the great closer To All Of You. CKY's guitarist's Deron and Chad managed to show that they were a cut above the rest of the rock scene on this album.
The vocal work to this album is actually shockingly good as well, with Lost In A Contraption and Rio Bravo standing out the most. Deron Miller possesses a very gruff sounding voice that, whilst not being a million miles away from the sound of Chad from Nickelback, actually manages to display a level of emotion and a decent range. On Rio Bravo in particular he attempts an odd style of screaming amidst his usual singing and shouting, and comes off sounding rather evil fitting in nicely with the dark sounding instruments on there. His best clean singing performance is found on the much weirder-sounding The Human Drive In Hi-Fi, which has much more of a pop-punk sound to it akin to a more unique sounding Green Day, with some stellar vocal work. This band really is underrated when it comes to vocals, with Deron proving himself time and time again to possess a very strong voice with many surprises found throughout and some great choruses that you will be singing along to all day.
The actual sound to this album is a varied package, drifting between the nu-metal sound of the late 90's and early 2000's and a hard rock and commercial rock sound with the occasional electronic element found to it, best found on Sara's Mask and also highly prominent in The Human Drive in Hi-Fi. The guitar work creates a solid wall of sound that boasts the occasional incredibly catchy riff and a prominent bass mix which is all the nicer to hear. The highlights are the first two songs 96 Quite Bitter Beings and Rio Bravo, as well as Knee Deep. The former contain the great guitar work the rest of the album boasts and some brilliant vocal work, whereas Knee Deep has a fantastic atmosphere to it, sounding creepy and dark, created initially by the guitar work, and then carried on into the verses with the lyrics and vocal work. These songs are all triple A pieces of music that require a listen from everyone.
The only actual flaw to be found in this album is that the occasional moment feels a little disjointed when stacked up against the rest of the album and is probably the reason the band never hit the big time. The obvious example would be the heavier section of 96 Quite Bitter Beings, where the two guitarists start playing a mash-up of riff of various chords fairly quickly with a really loud brash effect to them in which everything just blends together and sounds utterly horrible. There are one or two such moments found throughout the album, although thankfully they only last a few seconds each and therefore don't detract from the songs they are found on.
Formed in 1998 by the brother of skater and actor Bam Margera, CKY released four albums and it is unlikely that no matter what they do they will ever succeed in hitting the big time, and will unfortunately be forever remembered as the band that did that one song for the soundtrack of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3. However, it is advised that you listen to this band, as they possess a lot of talent on their respective instruments and have created one of the most unique rock albums out there with their debut album Volume 1.