Led by vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Scott Niekelski with backing by Mark Marketti (B /Vo), Paul Schmidt (G /Vo), and Steve Grzenia (D / Vo) Go Time! and their latest release Eight Ball is a true sensation. Their eighth album since starting in 2009, these guys are no strangers to the power of rock. That might sound hokey, but Go Time! are always honest with their sounds. Kicking off with the shredded masterwork that is “Fairy Tale Scenario”, the band weaves through a variety of rock sounds and experimentations with nuances in its keyboarding work and some exceptional drums as seen with “Critical Task”, and the titular “Eight Ball” is an aggressive power anthem with lyrics like “Like torn pages in a book, just try and see it all, just try and take one more look, stuck behind the eight ball.”
The lyrics are obtuse and can be a little confusing at points, but I think it’s less about what the lyrics mean literally and more what they represent, which I would argue are about being seen as one is, warts and all. For as loud as it can be, it’s never afraid to look inward and offer criticism of the sense of self like with the rhythmic and bass-heavy “Work in Progress” which is both about the world at large as evident by the albums clever cover art, but also the strains of getting better in a world without control as Niekelski sings.
Each song has an excellent sense of progression as every band member, so obviously in tune with each other (no pun intended) built off each other’s best qualities, but I’d argue the highlight for me is that impressive drumming by Grzenia which already holds steady, but the flourishes he implements both simple and more complex always leave an impression and you’ll find yourself air-drumming along very quickly. Each song bleeds into each other very well and there are even references to past and forthcoming songs littered throughout. It maintains a high octane energy nearly 24/7 and some not particularly dialed into this type of rock might find themselves wanting to split up tracks evenly as running at nearly an hour in length across 20 tracks, can be exhausting, something the band I feel lean into playfully with the dip in “Still Life” which has a very ironic name considering this track is anything but still even after it’s dip it picks back up for one hell of a climax.
It’s very clear this band has a lot to show off like the chintzy synth rhythms of “Moments of Compassion” that prove they’re not of a one-track mind. While I’d argue the instrumentals are among the best the record has to showcase, sometimes the lyrical content can feel a little repetitive, but it serves as a testament to the heavy themes of this album with its messages about contradiction, confusion, lies, and discovery. For me, the highlight is the fantastic “Tabloid Rumors” which sounds so lively I feel it’ll become a defining track in the lengthy discography of these Chicago-based giants.
by Bethany Page