West of Corey is classic hard rock band with various influences, consisting of core members – Corey Birkholz (Guitars), James West Foster (Bass) and Janine Taft (Lead Vocals). Their album “Slammed”, features no less than six drummers. Track for track, it’s a tour de force of blistering guitar riffs, catchy lyrics, and impeccable vocals with driving bass and thrusting rhythms. The band kicks off their new studio album with the vamped-up, “No Resistance”. It’s a high-energy rocker that sets the bar for the rest of tracks, and it’s uphill from there. The songs are fun, intense, loud, proud and inspired. And if you’re too young to have ever heard classic rock in its heyday, I highly recommend checking out this album.
There’s a dynamic dexterity to the rockers, and a steel edge to the ballads. West of Corey are experienced and confident enough at rock to play with words, rhythms and riffs. The melodies that rush into the ring, explode into a soar, then bob and weave in teasing syncopation, above a crushing wall of sound.
On “Misty Bound”, West of Corey manages to keep the ache and thunder believable, with a sense of emotion amid the bombast. “Course of Things to Come” lays bare Janine’s visceral interpretation, while clean guitars strum and pick their way through the minimal organic arrangement.
Corey’s guitar sets elegant counterpoint patterns against West’s bass explorations on “Star Gazer” – his playing is as fresh and welcome as a lucid thought among the lyrics’ associations. There’s a clarity to Janine’s voice, a directness, as she gets louder and fiercer. It’s not what she’s singing, but the singing itself that gets to the point.
Janine’s voice slices through Corey’s beautiful, chunky guitar arrangements on “Consider This”. It’s this passionate precision that make both the groove and melody so persuasive. West of Corey, knows what it wants and exactly how to go after it. On “Halfway to Walker” they open with an acoustic flourish, before switching the harmonies and electric power on.
One of the most endearing traits about this band is its ability to effectively switch off between heavy metal hard rock and sweeter, acoustic interludes, often within the context of one song. Next up, the unabashed rocker “Stranger in Love” displays a muscular fortitude that rivals any of their contemporaries, as does the bone-crushing “Alligator Breath”.
“Silent Dove” once again exults the band’s softer, more poignant side, with sprawling acoustics and resonant, soulful vocals. West and Corey have an opening instrumental dialogue on “You’re So Bad”, before the vocals take center-stage, but the two players never give up, and continue their phrasing battle right until the end.
“End of This Love Song” begins with haunting acoustic guitar strums and then slowly builds into an explosive fully-fleshed out arrangement with a fiery lead guitar solo, taking the listener away on a journey. “Crosshairs” closes the album with a good mixture of bright vocals and crunchy, distorted guitar riffs and leads.
“Slammed” is a great album, offering everything from ballads to blistering rock tracks. The music is very melodic, with interesting changes. The songs are dynamically performed, and showcases the band’s musicianship. Driving rhythms and full-throated vocals do the rest.