Music reviews: Hard rocking releases from Sangoma and Buckcherry
Huntington, WV-based Sangoma have returned. Diviner is the follow-up to last year’s remarkable self-titled EP. Also a six song EP, Diviner picks up where the last release left off, as cliche as that might sound.
Like its predecessor, Diviner is quite substantial musically: The riffs are huge and carry the songs with ease. Blair Yoke’s vocals are strong and his vocal style is distinct. More melody is infused within the songs, which obviously means more hooks in a fashion that adds layers and dimension to the songs. Guitarists Greg Gilbert and Garrett Babb execute some cool experimentation with dual guitar harmonies, bolstering the constitution of the songs noticeably. The varied tempo changes-from song to song in general, and within the songs themselves-give strong life to the material, making each track in itself quite the formidable sonic monster. This is probably best illustrated on cuts like “Orange Chrome” and “Serpent’s Deceit”. The mood and atmosphere fluctuates, but it never really polarizes.
Diviner has a big sound and crystal clear production. The band recorded this EP at Bud Carroll’s Trackside Studio, which has produced a lot of really good releases over the past few years. The CD’s sound is a big part of its effectiveness, and that credit can be shared with the recording techniques and facility.
Sangoma have found a real style with Diviner, more so than with their self-titled EP. From the music, all the way down to the CD’s artwork, they have chosen a path that they’ve carved out for themselves as a result of the sound songwriting and the uniqueness of the musical and vocal execution. The ‘stoner’ rock genre has grown to be rather popular over the last decade, so it’s hard for a band that falls into that category to retain much originality. The music on Diviner shows that Sangoma can successfully navigate their sound in a more original direction, saving them from sounding like every other ‘stoner’ rock outfit just trying their best (but failing) to build upon a style created decades ago. So, the verdict here is that Diviner is an excellent return for a band that has the chops to write and perform some heavy-duty rock ‘n’ roll, and can cross genres, making them an easy choice for a widespread audience.
Now six albums strong, Buckcherry has proven several times over that they are not just a quintet from Los Angeles doing what they do for the fame and all that comes with it. Rather, with the release of their sixth studio album, Confessions, they prove that they are in the game to do exactly what they want. As lead guitarist/co-founder Keith Nelson told me recently, they’re “in it to write great rock ‘n’ roll songs and do what they love to do.”
Confessions is one of those rock ‘n’ roll records that finds a band putting their best songwriting foot forward and continuing full speed ahead with a collection of songs that prove that this is not just a band capable of writing a few catchy hooks that will land them on heavy radio rotation, but, rather, tell some meaningful stories, shed light into some dark corners, and give their fans a package chock-full of good, honest songs. Nelson explains, “We wanted to write an album that could bring the listener to us; where we are at this point in time.”
While Confessions is not necessarily a concept album, there is an obvious cohesion of topics that refer to the seven deadly sins – seven of the 13 songs are literally titled after each of those sins. Buckcherry is obviously a band that has the ability to weather the trends of the times, and make their brand of rock ‘n’ roll their way.