The Chicago based three piece Go Time! has released six albums since their 2009 debut Speak and the latest, VI, is their first since January 2015.Led by singer, songwriter, and lead guitarist Scott Niekelski, the band’s lineup is rounded off with Steve Grzenia on drums and Marco Marketti on bass guitar. Their latest mammoth collection includes eighteen songs, none running over six minutes, and some will quibble with the sheer volume of songwriting on this release. The truth, however, is that Go Time never risks self indulgence with any of these cuts and there isn’t an outright dud in the bunch. The energy level stays high throughout the entirety of the release and Go Time! shows enough diversity stretched out over this release to assure anyone listening that they are far from one trick ponies.
“Human After All” opens the album with slashing guitar chords and a rambunctious spirit. Despite Niekelski’s guitar being the predominant instrument on the album, it’s never rock defined in a narrow fashion. This opener is an excellent introduction to how Niekelski incorporates melody into everything he does, but it never rounds down the sharp edges so far that they lose their jagged sharpness. “Drop the Act” pulses with far more outright anger than the opener, but manifesting emotions aren’t something that ever sends Go Time’s material off the rails. Subtle variations in approach, instead, clue us in. The guitar phrases are much terser than before and Niekelski attacks his instrument with just enough force to put over the song’s feeling. “Close to Home” is the first of the album’s shorter tracks and while a sub-three minute running time might suggest punk influences to some, those influences are never stressed too much. Instead, this is a relatively straight-ahead rocker given a twist by Niekelski’s biting guitar tone and his physicality on the instrument. He takes a handful of incendiary lead breaks during the song, but they are brief in duration despite peppering the song with more color.
Some things about “Broken” suggest that the band might be aiming this particular song for radio play. The acoustic setting for the track is certainly a big departure from the preceding compositions and highlights Niekelski’s talents for melodic songwriting without ever surrendering any of their clarity. “Tensions Simmer” doesn’t do much simmering musically – this is an out and out guitar driven musical assault that browbeats the listener into paying attention, but the next song “Black Space” finds a more artful balance for this sort of material. Niekelski’s guitar bubbles over with rough-hewn lead lines and authoritatively played chords while the band varies its groove in an assortment of unexpected ways that keeps listeners on the edge of their seat. Grzenia’s drums bring the band into “On the Brink” and the song has that same fly by the seat of its pants thrills implied by the title. It has a vague retro classic rock feel while still remaining resolutely modern in every other respect.
“Straight to Snuff” ends VI on an uncompromising note that, in essence, isn’t particularly different from the aforementioned song. Go Time does a gripping job of juggling a number of balls at the same time – VI is, in turns, mildly funny, rousing, and always tightly played and intensely presented. Go Time! is a rare unit; few bands could manage producing such an abdunance of fine material within one calendar year and, even if the album could surely be cut by a few songs, they clear any goal they set for themselves with room to spare.