Music Review: ‘Big Tobacco Company’

Big Tobacco Company-jpg.comKiller metal seasoned with speed describes the self-titled album debut from Big Tobacco Company. Enthusiasts searching for intense modern American indie music look no further, because BTC is here. Listeners should be ready to get slammed against the wall with a fresh blast of distortion and sonic momentum. Complete with ferocious vocals, two amped guitars and a blistering rhythm battery, this contemporary music powerhouse has things well covered. But there is more to the music.

                             Now Playing

Big Tobacco Company is Evan Ullman – lead vocals, mixing; Alec Ullman – drums; Bobby Ullman – guitar; Brad Burns – guitar; and Chris Brummer – bass. Together, the Cincinnati-based band’s creativity evokes emotion, which is why the new album receives such high marks. In other words, the instrumentation, vocal work and imagination congeal for an extreme music catharsis. These characteristics are illustrated in “Doomshroom,” the opening cut from the 11-song studio collection.  The title alone is inventive, by way of a cleverly ominous theme. Then there is the performance.

After a three-note bass intro, palm muted tremolo picking and chord progressions work toward single string harmonics during “Doomshroom.” The interplay between drums and bass is tightly synchronized, as if the two were a single unit. No, that was not a machine gun you heard. Depending on the song, a double kick pedal is used on the album, with both single and double bass drums. Layered over a guitar lead, the vocal work goes fromBig Tobacco frantic growling to a more melodic style before returning to form again. The melodious quality leans more towards speed metal than thrash, but that could be splitting hairs. Hardcore death and punk aficionados will appreciate the angry mood and lyrics “See my strife, ain’t it nice, leave it all, take it all, life, fucking life…”

                                                                     More about the Songs

Track three from the collection, “Scorp,” is another winner. This time around Big Tobacco adds a progressive quality using an experimental guitar sound for the introduction and a vocal treatment that transitions between a head banging hard rock vibe and throaty metal. Notice the bass playing finesse. Of course, everything sounds better on larger stereo speakers and this recording is no exception.

The band changes things up with “Combo,” but you still get hit over the head coming out of the gate. Considering the general quality of performance, though just 2:12, Big Tobacco has no problem attracting interest and holding a listener’s attention. The drumming in “Combo,” skin and cymbal, is impressive. The vocals transition back and forth from a solo voice to thicker layered singing. The production is equally sharp with the guitars and bass aptly filling the mix.

                                             Unexpected Composition, No Live Gigs, Indie Made

Big Tobacco Company-jpg.comThe surprise pick in the bunch has to be “Hangman’s Song,” where an acoustic guitar drives a dark melody next to clean electric fills, before the amperage is turned up. A bit of delay lends a symphonic feel to the music, while an axe solo adds some neo-classical metal appeal. But make no mistake because vocals are a large part of the Big Tobacco Company brand and “Hangman’s Song” illustrates that point. The singing flips from a tamer, tuneful harmony to sudden eruptions creating contrast. No doubt, Big Tobacco Company has an impressive studio sound. Surprisingly, members have stopped performing live. It seems playing at different concert spots can be problematic; getting paid is among the difficulties encountered. With regard to playing bars and clubs, according to the band, “It has to benefit both parties.”

Other standout songs from the album include “Ripples,” with its acoustic beginning’; “DB”; and “Tricycle Ride,” that briefly uses a piano at the start. “Exmas” also has a curious opening. Most titles from the album have an intro, usually instrumental. Mark one up for originality, as well as musicianship. From a wider perspective, Big Tobacco Company is what’s currently going on in the indie world. Reflexive mainstream music inventories are not the only way to go. The collective sound of musicians cuts a much wider swath than retailers will have you think. Metal is alive and has a voice. Released during December 2017 Big Tobacco Company was produced by Big Tobacco Company. Mixing was done by Evan Ullman, with Jeff Monroe mastering.

                                                                      Accompanying Visuals

If the music of Big Tobacco doesn’t get you, perhaps the video for “Doomshroom” will. Created by Brad Burns, the crew seems right at home. Yes, if you watch closely, someone is hanging out with a cigarette in his mouth. The mirrored images reveal an amusing side of the band as the lyrics flash across the screen. The group also recently released a lyric video for “Fork,” from Big Tobacco Company. Talk about guitar driven.

If a band is only as good as its players, Big Tobacco Company has nothing to worry about. Keen metal sensibilities and vocal versatility send this album to the top of the indie music food chain. Big Tobacco Company is available at cdbaby®.


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