January sparked the indie release of the highly anticipated Howitzer debut CD Rise to Power. Based out of Arizona, this volatile three piece pushes brutality to the edge. Their early punk roots are scattered throughout the disc, bringing together an undeniable old school punk/hardcore vibe reminiscent of the New York scene during the 80's.
Blacklisted, which starts the disc off, is modern thrash at its best. Raw, hungry and pissed. Following suit is Purge and the stomp fest S.I.D. Strangely enough, for a debut release, there are two instrumentals included. As Integrity Dies Slowly shows the acoustic, slower side of the band's front man and guitarist, Matt Moody. While the piece is intricate and delicate, it simply has no time to go anywhere in one minute and thirty three seconds. The second instrumental, The Shadow of War, is nothing more than static and gun blasts for one minute and forty nine seconds. Makes me wonder what the point of it is when the space could have been used for another full tune.
While being original in this day and age is pretty much unheard of, the novelty of being a one lone guitarist does carry a heavy burden. In Vindication and Rise to Power, the guitar solo is played out over no underneath guitar chords (but a thick ass bass line instead), taking away some of the momentum that the song builds up. However, the solos on these two tracks are some of the best that the disc has to offer, especially in Vindication.
Also distinctive on this release is the three bandmates' (drummer Jeremy Jalowiec and bassist Beau Diveley along with Moody) vocal styles, as they share the duties throughout the songs. Makes for an interesting blend and at the same time, contrast.
While not entirely breaking new ground, this disc does showcase the Arizona music scene and it's hidden talents within. Definitely a worthy addition to the heavier side of your CD collection.