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CD REVIEW: The Rise and Fall of O’Ren Black by STEREOVIOLET

Chicago’s Stereoviolet have a modern but retro balance that works on a level best throughout their debut album, The Rise and Fall of O’Ren Black. And there’s nothing to do but run the songs down because they’re all very good works. Beginning with “Verse For Verse” they come on very strong out of the gate with a guitar driven rocker that has an esoteric sound behind some over the top vocals. This pulsates with a machine gun effect from one end to the other. They put a lot into it with power chords and guitar effects both playing a part, and the keys, bass and drums doing what they do best. A classic alternative rocker for the current times.

“The Reckoner” doesn’t hold as much promise for all it’s worth, but it does rock in a similar vein and the guitar soars with a vengeance, so not much to speak of is really lost. They have a big sound, so it’s worth mentioning that no matter how this was written, they play it with everything they’ve got. That’s a reckoning in its own-right. And then there is “Shotgun” with its more laid-back factors to change it up, even though it does have some bursts of energy. The vocals take a front seat in this number and allow her to shine at one of her best points on the album with an exquisite delivery.

With all this excellent musicianship going on, they plow through “Alone” and “An Accident” like they’re two in the same before getting into “The Last Stand” where things start to really get interesting with a tribal percussion and a very Smithereens influenced sound. But the bombast takes over in parts and that’s one thing that makes this band so good. The songs have a progressive, ever changing thread. This takes knowing their way around their instruments without just copying others. This gets down right grungy and it’s just another layer to their sound that seems to be endless.

The goods keep coming on “Insecure” with a great song in every way, but there is something missing and I can’t quite figure that out, but it’s not a filler because there are none on this album. It doesn’t matter what they’re playing it all checks out. “Before You Go” has a cool gothic sound to it with some excellent keyboard work holding it together. As where “Broken Leverage” adds the contract in which everything can be measured by to come out clean in the scheme of things, being essentially a concept album. The only weak point about it all is the low vocal mix. It could’ve used some more up-front space.

The drums cook right up on “A Lie” and those great bursts of excitement are once again placed all over another fine track. These players all clearly know what they’re doing, which should be a drawing point for the band. You can’t argue with the guitars on any tracks, and the rest make all top marks. In closing the final track stands up to the first which is a testament to any great album, with “Whisper” turning in an enormously satisfying exit to a great album. More exposure, the more it is possible to make sure they stick around. That’s the most important point to be made about this album and the band.

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/stereoviolet

by Kevin Webber

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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