You may actually have to do a little digging to find the new album from this under-underground Boston trio. But put in the time, and you'll be rewarded with some of the most potent, crushing, timeless hard rock and roll to come down the pike this year. WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE marry clenched-fist riffs and rhythmic intensity to soulful, soaring vocals, and the combination will send chills up your spine.
Vocalist/guitarist Jim Healey has this big, powerful belter's voice, somewhere in the vicinity of Ian Astbury, Glenn Danzig, John Lancaster (CHUM) and Jonah Jenkins (of fellow Beantown cult faves ONLY LIVING WITNESS and MILLIGRAM). He can bust out some frenzied screams (see the anatomically puzzling "Paper Asshole"), but man, when this guy lays into a vocal melody and sings it from the gut, it's powerful stuff. The six-minute-plus "Evil Red" is musically one of the simplest songs on "The Wreck of the Minot" — repetitious in that TOOL kind of way, very sedate and tense. But Healey's croon-to-a-scream performance makes it one of the album's highlights.
Musically, the band rely on a lot of lurching, start-stop grooves and solid, simple chugging, inviting comparisons to HELMET or mid-'90s ANTHRAX. "Resolve" and "Lower Than Life" are prime examples of this style, while "Evil Red" and "One Thirteen" are slower, more brooding and hypnotic, building to loud and epic finishes (in the latter's case, a segue into groove-drenched raveup "I Am the Messiah", a track tailor-made for driving too fast this summer). The title track is a nice acoustic interlude that provides some dynamic, and builds into the slow swell of the climactic "Violence and Laughter".
Throughout, Healey's huge, heartfelt singing remains the focal point, and the rest of the music is arranged to spotlight it. There's enough melody here, combined with the simple, propulsive riffing, to make one wonder why no larger label has picked up on WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE yet. Maybe it's because, though some of these songs would fit just fine on the radio, Healey and bandmates Scott Healey and Russ Boudreau look more like drunken biker hermits than blog-worthy post-emo hipsters. That fact alone may keep them off MTV, but it shouldn't keep you from checking out this impressive album.
"The Wreck of the Minot" is one of those records that makes you glad to be a music geek. It makes a grand statement by not making any grand statements, but by simply delivering a dozen massive, infectious songs played with intensity and conviction. You just gotta hear it.