Renegade Cartel’s first album is a heaping helping of heavy, groove-driven rock music. The Boston-based trio successfully blends near metal heaviness with occasional hints of complementary genres, including blues, fuzz and stoner suggestions.
Singer and bassist Stephen Damon-Tilley howls like an unhinged blues singer over a cacophony of distortion and rhythm during the album’s 15-song collection. Damon-Tilley’s has a solid, wailer-style voice which can carry a chorus while retaining a hint of malice. The style leads to a surprisingly seamless mesh of genres, almost as if Monster Magnet’s Dave Wyndorf fronted the Black Crowes. The songs from Dear World have dark moments without abandoning the fun and energetic spirit.
Starting with the opening cut from Dear World, “Break Your Chains,” later “Leaving Fairytales Behind” and “Labyrinth,” the band demonstrates a palpable energy which should have heads banging. Guitarist Victor Diego Robles demonstrates talented fret work with leads on songs like “Morning Light” and “Overdrive.” The title track is another standout, with doom rock riffs setting the tone for a tale of a civilization causing its own peril, as Damon-Tilley screams, “We fight through this space and time for a world we’ll never know…/Lost your mind to own it. We got to find this dear world.”
But there are a couple of left turns, also inviting continued listening. “When” is a soulful, nine-minute lovelorn tale with deep guitar solos and haunting melodies. Another curveball, “Glory,” is a mid-tempo, lo-fi grunge cut with more subdued vocals and a catchy, five-chord chorus. An impressive 76-minute LP, Renegade Cartel provides a range of classic sounding, hard rock and roll which comfortably covers the spectrum.
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Justin Smulison is a professional content writer and producer whose first love is music. Smulison’s digital and print copywriting experience spans music, law, true crime, advertising and real estate, among other subjects. You can often find JS in Long Beach, New York, either running on the boardwalk or in the sand with his family.