Content-starved music sites occasionally post one of those obnoxious and condescending Lefsetz-inspired screeds about how to get ahead in the music business, and it inevitably treads the same tired territory: tour, maintain a strong online presence, continuously share new music, blah blah blah. Maybe if you’re trying to appease some lowest common denominator of the casual music fan, these words hold some credence. But let’s be real: the music business is a cesspool, and getting ahead in it just means wading deeper into the shit. The best bands have always been the ones that didn’t care about getting ahead. To hell with radio rock; spin some of those old Dead Moon albums. And the best records have always been the ones made in defiance of industry standards. Fuck your Rumours; gimme some Tusk.
For nearly a decade, Seattle’s riff architects Sandrider have been doing all the wrong things. Go on tour? Nah. Engaging on social media? What are you, a fourteen-year-old? Saturating people with new music? Meh… how about making a new record every four years or so? It’s doubtful that anyone listening to “The Corpse” off Sandrider’s self-titled debut album reacted to the triumphant ascending chords and anthemic sludge chorus by thinking “damn, this is great but I wish the band had a bunch of pithy inane blather on Twitter to completely de-mystify this experience.” Similarly, did anyone listen to the rousing call-to-arms scourge of their sophomore album’s opener “Ruiner” and think “if only I’d heard a demo version of this song on my shitty laptop speakers several months ago, my goosebumps would be that much pricklier.” Granted, we’re not gonna justify the whole not-touring angle because we’d love to see Sandrider play outside of the Northwest too, but I guess the trio just know how to make their band a prized commodity. And with their new album Armada, Sandrider continues to staunchly refuse to do anything other than be the fiercest, grittiest, riff-driven rock band possible.
Enough with all the things Sandrider does “wrong;” let’s talk about what they do right on Armada. Legions of dudes go out and buy all the cool vintage gear, dime their settings, tune down a half-step lower with each new song, and churn out some cheap approximation of “heavy.” Guitarist Jon Weisnewski plays a Squire strat and the band tunes to E standard because a good riff should be heavy in its own right. Beg to differ? Try and argue with the guttural thunder of “Brambles”. Most every drummer reared on the weightier underground rock of the Northwest hopes to clobber the kit like Dale Crover, but Sandrider’s Nat Damm can also blaze like punk legend Chuck Biscuits, as demonstrated on the ripper “Lungs”. Bassists in the realm of grimy riffs often serve to merely bolster the low-end, but on tracks like “Hollowed” Jesse Roberts not only reinforces the band’s throb and punch, but lays down leads and counter-melodies to Weisnewski’s fretboard-spanning guitar work. But most importantly, like every great power trio from Rush to Unwound, Sandrider knows giving every instrument equal weight makes for a more powerful and dynamic sound, as seen on album highlights like “Creep” and “Lineage”.
Recorded by Matt Bayles (Mastodon, ISIS, The Sword) at Red Room Studios and mastered by Ed Brooks at Resident Mastering, Armada is an immaculately rendered documentation of the fury and fortitude of Sandrider. Because for everything that Sandrider does wrong, they’re not about to fuck up with their quadrennial offering to their reverent audience. Seattle’s stalwart brutal rock label Good To Die is proud to release the album to the masses on vinyl and digital formats late 2017. [BC]
“A striking and impressive debut that’s heartily recommended to fans of Akimbo” – THE OBELISK
“Seattle’s about to get loud again” – VERBICIDE MAGAZINE
“Sandrider’s debut, hypnotic and pummeling at turns, is every bit as clever and multidimensional as fans of Akimbo’s Seventh Rule/Alternative Tentacles/Neurot releases might expect.” – DECIBEL MAGAZINE
“[Sandrider] have created a simmering, brooding masterpiece that gives way throughout to massive eruptions of oozing fire and fury.” – THE SLEEPING SHAMAN
“Sandrider is vast, gripping the listener, and intellectual without over-thinking. This is an extremely promising debut form a powerful new project.” – EXCLAIM.CA
“It’s as though somebody fired up a smooth-running yet monstrous 12-cylinder muscle car and sent it barreling down the freeway (or mythical dune-field) at punishing speeds.” – SEATTLE WEEKLY
“Sandrider’s debut is a relentless 40-minute ride. And while I’m still toying with the Best Riffs idea…I don’t like the idea of having to pick out the pinnacle of Sandrider’s album.” – THE STRANGER