Album Review: Pillbuster: Pillbuster

It's the simple pleasures that help make life worthwhile. For me, there's the anticipation of listening to a new CD and the impossible wait just before the opening track starts playing. Generally, with my hand on the volume knob, I turn it up for maximum effect. When the first few notes begin there are three possible reactions - "Ooh, that's not very good. Let's try track two", "Eh, that's kind of what I expected" or "Hell yeah!".

Folks, let me introduce you to the debut record from the Virginia based band "Pillbuster"."Pillbuster" hails from Virginia Beach and this album simply rocks the house with some good old, tuned-down-to-D, groovy, skank-metal (did I just make that phrase up?). Solid, medium-tempo beats from drummer Douglas Stanek stay more or less consistent throughout the album. Bass player Chris Kernstock adds depth (and some pretty cool riffing of his own) to the project while vocalist Brett Lloyd keeps the aggressive energy flowing.

Their self-titled album kicks off with the song "Dying Next to You" and guitarist Joe Festa sets the stage for what is to follow with his powerful down-tuned opening riff that actually elicited the "hell, yeah" response from me. A note to aspiring bands out there... don't underestimate the power of the opening riff. "5th Helena Drive" and "Coincide" are next and continue the driving rhythms and the ever-present heavy groove, proving to me that the opening track was not a fluke.

"Pillbuster" really begins to hit their stride with track 4, "Beast". To me, "Beast" sums up what this record is all about. It rocked, grooved and kept my head bobbing throughout. On a personal note, this album is right up my alley. It's not over-produced and compressed to the hilt but it doesn't sound like it was recorded in a garage either. It keeps you bouncing enough to make you happy and it's aggressive enough to make you want to go out and punch someone in the throat.

The trend of consistant tempo throughout the album, great riffing and cool beat-downs continues with "Revery". The vocals are gritty enough to fit the feel of the album but not so growly that you can't figure out what Brett is saying. "Rhythm of Decline" is classic defiance rock. Included here is an awesome break down at the end which surely causes mayhem in the pit during the live show. "Resolve" is another showpiece with a great groove. It's dance music for metalheads and, running over 4:00 minutes, is one of the longer selections on the album. In fact, all 10 tracks total just over 37 minutes but I didn't feel short-changed. "Pillbuster" writes songs which are concise, to the point and slamming. "Sinkhole" and "Push" close out the CD and made me want to play it again from the beginning. (I did).

I don't want to play the "sounds like..." game. Certainly "Pillbuster" been influenced by the bands who came before. Students of the genre could probably pick out some "Sabbath", maybe some "Soundgarden" with a little "Black Flag" thrown in for good measure. Perhaps they sound a bit like "Texas Hippie Coalition". It makes no difference. "Pillbuster" is an amalgam of a variety of influences and they've created a very accessible sound of their own. It's classic metal at an easy pace with a subtle compexity and ferocious vocals. Job well done, gentlemen. Now, what exactly is a "pillbuster"?

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