I did contemplate the intense amount of silliness that would have unfolded if Stallone had turned out to be a Rambo-dedicated, Austrian Death Machine-esque parody act, so much so that I almost wrote this review before actually listening to the EP itself. But that would have been wrong dear Shaman-reader, just plain WRONG! Stallone is the new side-project of Torche/Floor/Cavity/MonstrO guitarist Juan Montoya and drummer Evan Diprima (Big Jesus), and whilst they emit a different combination of flavours of those bands’ respective awesomeness, they don’t shy away from their trademark heavy, precision riffs and upbeat emotive backing melodies either. This is a tasty little snack bite of what’s hopefully a bigger, crunchier beast yet to surface.
Standing at just three vocal-less tracks in 15 intrigue-led minutes, there’s not a huge amount to discuss, but the four-piece have managed to craft a sound which retains the static humidity of Torche’s riffing, whilst adding a wider array of techniques to keep things fresh. ‘Wondrous Beast’ opens with a thrash-metal semi-on before humping its way into a drum-rolling, yet chime-backed, romp before spasming off down various feedback-tinged, cymbal-drenched sordid alleyways. It’s as undeniably heavy as anything we’ve heard from the personnel involved, and yet there’s a new eeriness which leaves a nervous uncertainty washed-up over the metallic guitar lines, like the calm before a storm in Nevada. ‘The Battle of Miami’ is the closest sounding track to Torche themselves, with a soft and warming embrace echoing from the bassy overtones. If it had lyrics it could slot in right at home on Torche’s eponymous debut album or even the Blue Record by Baroness. Heavy and commanding, but yet somehow cuddly and comforting, just like your great Aunt Diane. Maybe.
‘La Cobra’ opens with some unexpected Spanish 12-string guitar flirtations before lurching into a fast juddering riff not unlike a classic jazz-doom cut from Philadelphia’s Stinking Lizaveta. The crunching rhythms sway like a barfly drunk at closing time, before opening out into a beautifully melodic, underwater-sounding passage. It’s like Black Cobra and Russian Circles having a spot of handbags in the car park of a Modest Mouse gig. The drums build up and up into a frenzy almost as quickly as the turbo fast-forward lunacy of the video the band have put together for the track which features Diprima and Montoya legging it around some the outer suburbs of their hometown Atlanta, Georgia with their instruments, rocking out with the help of the world’s smallest backline wherever they can.
This is a cracking little EP; weird and quirky yet heavy enough to satisfy any riff-craving at a moment’s notice and I’m hoping that Montoya and Diprima, along with bassist C.J. Ridings (also of Big Jesus) and six-stringer Thomas Gonzalez, find some time between their other commitments to build on this bands sole output. Perhaps they’re just waiting to hear back from Sly himself about adding a few trademark “Adriaaaaaaaaan!”s in to the mix, but even if they don’t, it’s a free download from Bandcamp that’s definitely worth 15 minutes of your time.
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Label: Self Released
Scribed by: Pete Green