M�ttle's first EP, entitled 27 Ghosts, is a five song intro to a band that understands the power of songs that can stick in your ears, courtesy of a strong hook and a compelling vocal. The band is made up of vocalist Megan Rice, guitarist Scott Gossett, bassist Anthony Gossett and drummer Raul Ochoa. The best part of this record is the diversity found in the tracks, not veering violently from lane to lane like a drunk driver but rather adding deft colors like Da Vinci, making each track unique while still adhering to the same DNA.
From my standpoint, the appeal of 27 Ghosts can be boiled down to the three most important ingredients: great songs, strong vocals and competent instrumentation.
1) Most importantly, if you don't have songs, you don't have a record. 27 Ghosts delivers, and then some, on that count. The first track, "Stuck" opens with a modest pace that sets up the crunchy but clean chorus perfectly. For some reason, I'm getting a Jar of Flies (Alice in Chains) vibe from the verses, although they don't resemble the band in any way. Then the tranquil waters give way to a more raucous river ride that would probably be even more commanding in a live setting. Scott Gossett's tasty solo is the icing on the cake with a short-but-sweet burst.
The first single, "Red and Blue", is an absolute lion-slayer. I've played this song about a billion times since I first heard it. What's not to love? The song itself is perfection (Editor: I concur) --- a hook that is guaranteed to stick in your ears forever --- not too sweet ensuring it won't burn itself out in a dozen or so listenings. Megan's (more about her later) delivery will draw you in as she caresses each note and you hang on to every syllable. Once again, Gossett's solo gets in and out after doing its job very effectively. Also cousin Anthony's bass lines heighten things every second verse quite nicely as does the mini breakdown where Ochoa's drums are a real call-to-arms right before the solo (Check out the video here>
The moodier "Dreams" is up next and following the intro, there's lots of room for the bass and drums to breathe while the guitar takes a break for the first few lines. This track really is like a dream, as though a bubble-wrap was surrounding the music, only letting a slicing guitar solo peak through the plastic to jar you awake.
"Gavin" is a straight-ahead rocker with a confident gait. A terrific guitar pattern on the chorus help elevate things along with the simple but effective solo. "Warmer Weather" slows the tempo down but retains the same ear-friendly material. I have this song begging me to play it again in my head when I'm away from my music stash. Also nice, classy solo that reminds me of Craig Chaquico from Starship.
2) If you're going to make an impact with a rock band, you have to (well you don't HAVE to but it's sure a lot easier) have a singer with a certain appeal. (Editor: Oh boy, here we go.) From what we've heard so far, Megan Rice is not a virtuoso. She is not Anneke van Giersbergen nor Tarja, Floor Jansen or anything in that vein. However and more importantly, she exudes a quality that demands repeated listening. What she DOES have is the certain something (kind of like the McDonald's secret sauce) that surrounds the words and carries them to your ears in such a way that make you want to hear them again and again.
What is the use of a 4-octave range when nobody will remember the songs? Megan's voice is akin to (at least for me) a tractor-beam from the Death Star in Star Wars. As previously stated, I have listened to "Red and Blue" about a billion times and part of it is the song but most of it is Megan's voice. (Editor: Scott, I have a feeling you should probably stop reading about here. (Scott is Megan's husband.) ) It's no secret that a part of the foundation of rock & roll is sex. What's that old saying? It's easier to catch flies with honey than vinegar. Well, Megan is definitely the siren that would draw sailors to their death on the rocks with her voice. With its slightly lazy, almost subdued, quality, I'm glued to each and every word and asking for more. Her vocals definitely recall Benatar at times but more closely Rindy Ross from Quarterflash (remember "Harden My Heart"?) and slightly like Terri Nunn from Berlin.
Then, as a band if you have an added compelling visual component, you are even luckier. (Editor: Oh boy, here we go.) M�ttle mined gold in this aspect since Megan is flat-out gorgeous. I may have watched the video for "Red and Blue" until the screen melted but in my defense I have to say I played the song ad nauseam before I ever saw the video. I should admit the visual really helps drive home the audio however and a live presentation by this band would not be a hardship in any stretch of the imagination. And while we're at it, here's a big thumbs up for hair flips (band joke), (Editor: OK, reign it in, big guy. Scott, you can pick it up again here.)
3) If you have a sleek and pristine racing car with four square wheels, you're not going to get very far (Ed: sounds like the last clunker you drove, I mean pushed to work). The songs and vocals wouldn't have quite the same impact without a band that knows what they're doing. The three piece play their stuff without over-playing. Scott, in particular, deserves kudos (he wrote the music) for his tasty solos that fit the song perfectly and guitar lines that are both crunchy and restrained in the right parts.
Five songs on the debut record by Mettle and the only disappointing thing is that there is not more. I look forward to what I hope is a long career for this band.
Get your copy here.
Mettle - 27 Ghosts
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