Review Summary: Familiar yet fresh. Hard Rock at its raw, unremitting, abrasive, unpretentious best.
It’s getting to be pretty rare that you find a hard rock band with anything new to say. Originality is a precious commodity in a genre that probably peaked in 1987. Sure, Halestorm may have just bagged a Grammy, but, arguably, the only thing that separates them from their peers is a missing pair of testicles. Hard rock, that once visceral and rebellious force has, for the most part, taken a nearly three decade long slide toward the middle-of-the-road emasculation of cock-rock, with every subsequent crop of hard rockers distilling the genre into its increasingly overdone constituent elements.
As the genre increasingly descends into cliché and unwitting self-parody, self-awareness and tongue-in-cheek humour have become its only saving graces. That was where The Darkness came in as temporary saviours of this dying race of dinosaurs, before their shtick too became tired and the line between parody and reality blurred beyond recognition. This is ostensibly where Krinkle now comes in.
The band’s primary influence is clear from the get-go; it’s Guns n’ Roses circa ’85-‘87. The sleazy riffs thrown down by guitarists Coma and Tom twist and twine around each other like classic Rolling Stones, but with the amps at 11; just like GN’R used to do. The guitar solos draw on every lesson ever taught by Slash on how to play the ‘blooze’ scale, with the exception of album opener ‘SSSP’ which falls more in-line with the Kirk Hammett School of wah-related shreddery. Vocalist Shuey doesn’t quite quite have the range and presence of an Axl Rose or a Sebastian Bach, but his raspy delivery puts him somewhere in the Jason McMaster (of Dangerous Toyz ‘fame’) range of Axl-imitators. Hell, Krinkle sounds a heckuva lot more like GN’R than GN’R themselves have in a long, long time.
However, while the GN’R influence is ever-present, Krinkle filters it through a healthy dose of 90’s alt-rock weirdness inspired by the likes of Jane’s Addiction, Queens of the Stone Age and System of a Down. This is what separates them from their countless GN’R and Mötley Crüe-aping peers. Krinkle may keep their compositions tight and to the point - the longest song here tops out at 3 minutes 45 seconds - but each of the songs, propelled by the boundless punky energy of the drummer, Afghan, and his interplay with the guitarists, contains a surprise a minute, with the songs and the album never settling into a predictable formula.
Krinkle’s weirdness manifests itself in things such as the killswitch-diddling stutter of the riffs in ‘Bear Meat’, the off-key harmonies on the intro of ‘Bloodred’, and the sudden stops and unaccompanied cymbal tings on ‘Win or Die’. The end result is that the band constantly finds ways to grab the listener’s attention and hold on to it. The riffs themselves manage to stay away from the clichés and tropes of the genre while remaining suitably familiar and accessible, which is not an easy task at all. Vocalist Shuey also shows a Serj Tankian level of versatility and weirdness by constantly changing up his delivery; oscillating from hair-metal upper-register singing to harsher hardcore-esque shrieks and the occasional death-metal grunt, while still finding the time to write hooks. This schizophrenia might have been a tad tiresome if not for the breakneck speed with which the band conducts proceedings.
To be fair, Krinkle probably isn’t reinventing hard rock. Each of the elements on display is not unique to the band. However, one of the reasons why this EP works so well is because, despite the obvious intricately designed nature of the compositions, the band makes the music sound effortless. It’s hard to deny that in spite of its complexity, this is, above all else, a FUN album that often sounds like nothing more than a bunch of guys wailing away with Les Pauls plugged into Marshalls on full-blast without any plan whatsoever, while singing about pirates and stuff. Rather than trying to hold your attention with bombast and self-important posturing, the band just kicks up a ruckus that just sounds too damn fun to ignore. This is hard rock at its raw, unremitting, abrasive, unpretentious best.