Review Summary: I feel like I'm home again, where everything feels right.
No one could accuse Pete Murray of putting himself in a box. Over a career spanning more than two decades, he’s tried his hand at several different genres – including speed metal (Indica), industrial/nu metal (Ultraspank), mainstream hard rock (Lo-Pro) and electronica-tinged alternative (Life on Planet 9) – and proven to be more than competent at each. With his current group, White Noise Owl, Murray sounds more confident than he has in a long while; Until We Meet Again
is perhaps one of the strongest-sounding and most solid pieces of work the man has put his name to in his entire career. One might think that experimenting with so many different styles would make it hard for any artist to come out with something cohesive, but that’s not the case here at all.
What we have here is Murray reunited with his original Lo-Pro bandmate John Fahnestock (also of Snot) on bass, alongside drummer Will Hunt (Evanescence, Dark New Day and about 3962 other bands) and guitarist Chris Shy. With a mix of musicians like that, you could probably guess what the end product would sound like and not be too far off the mark. These four songs (excluding the intro) may not seem radically different from one another, and may not exactly reach Mr. Bungle levels of unpredictability, but they fit together in a way that feels natural, which is partly why Until We Meet Again
sounds as strong as it does.
Murray’s signature lung-searing vocals are once again the main attraction, whether they’re sounding off over an almost garage rock-style instrumental as in “Feed” (which coincidentally or not, shares its title with an Ultraspank song), or yelling “This is what you live for! Now you’re all alone!”
on the intense, stadium-sized “Bomber”. “End Over End” might be one of the most memorable songs Murray has ever written, while “Are You Breathing"” wraps things up in epic, old-school Lo-Pro fashion. Shy’s guitar solos make for a tasteful addition as well, even if they’re not the most technically jaw-dropping things ever committed to tape. The production really brings out the fullness of the band’s sound without feeling overdone, which helps a lot given the huge atmosphere that these songs are supposed to create.
It's very hard to review a project like this without comparing it to what its creators have done before, and although Until We Meet Again
owes some debt to its predecessors (Lo-Pro’s first two albums in particular), it could still stand up solidly by itself. The members of White Noise Owl have done a darn good job of creating something that stands apart from their previous work, while giving long-term fans something to enjoy at the same time – not only does this EP compare easily to that which went before it, but there's enough original content for it to rival any other contemporary rock release out there. All bodes well for WNO’s debut full-length, expected any time now. So boys, until we meet again…