Forget what you think you know of your run-of-the-mill garage rock bands, because the duo Brother O’ Brother is changing the game.
Led by Chris Banta (guitar, vox) and Warner Swopes (drums), their uniquely heavy style lends itself to an amalgam of metal, grunge, and even classic rock- and their latest album, Skin Walker, exemplifies this notion.
The new album – which officially dropped digitally September 10th via Romanus Records – is a 10-track buzzsaw of sound sure to delightfully disturb your neighbors.
At the start of Skin Walker, Brother O’ Brother brings you into their world with “Prologue to Delirium.” The brief intro involves experimental instrumentation as well as some spoken word quotes to set the vibe for the rest of the album.
After the dramatic intro, the listener is immediately pulverized (in a good way) by an energetic drum line and ripping electric guitar in the first full song of the album, “Elixir.” Here we are introduced to the duo’s assertive and impassioned vocals that drive their songs into the souls of their audiences.
The brothers keep the energy up in “Death by Consumption,” where a bit more of their musicality becomes the focal point of the jam. The song discusses the bane of consumerism, and how the want for material things is endless in modern society. Implementing their social commentary with their gut-punching melodies, this piece stands out within the album as a hard-hitting display of their complexity.
Their fourth track, “Wizard and Warlocks,” comes forth as one of their more traditional rock songs on the project, as it nods to notable sounds of bands like The Black Keys and AC/DC. With multiple different tempo changes throughout the song, the brothers show off their ability to keep the energy high while in control through such multiplex songs.
The duo’s passion for socio-political commentary mixed with aggressive musicality is embodied in the track, “Who Wants It, Who Gets It.” They touch upon themes of gentrification and the constant competition for greater possession within the U.S. The song is broken apart by a mellow guitar breakdown as they plead to the listener about the burden of paying for the toxic consumerism in the country.
As the title track of the album, “Skin Walker” contains other-worldly instrumentation interwoven with some more modern production techniques. The brothers combine these unique sounds with classic rock guitar licks and pulsing percussion, making the track deserving of the title credit.
The 7th track, “Cyborg,” stands out as vocal showcase as the duo demonstrates their vocal strength and endurance throughout the song. The track is fueled by aggressive lyricism as the song presents as a diss track towards those who seem to not have a mind of their own.
Embellished by a catchy guitar melody, “Specie of Noise” definitely leans into the harder rock category of the brother’s catalogue. The song, as related to the title of track, focuses in on the noisy, forward driving feeling of their instrumentation and the power they emulate through their dynamics.
Compared to the rest of the album, “Consumerism Salvo” is introduced as one of the tamer songs on the album where the duo’s lyricism is showcased above all. Per usual, the brothers don’t slack off on the powerful vocals and consistent and dynamic musicality. The song further stresses the band’s theme of disdain for consumerism in modern society, and how it takes form in everyone’s life.
“Birth” closes out the project with a bang, as they reintroduce their ability to mix classic rock styles with their own original production techniques. In this finale, the duo demonstrates their vocal range yet again, as well as paying homage to their love of the timeless sounds of a traditional garage rock-and-roll.
Brother O’ Brother delivers an epic collection of music with Skin Walker for those who live and die by the grit and tenacity of heavier grunge rock with poignant messages. If you’re tired of the same old same old, give the record a spin, and check out their previous albums Neon Native and Show Pony while you’re at it.