True, Join the Dead aren't trying to create their own musical bandwagon for others to jump on. But that doesn't make their debut album, Distorted Cognition, any less of a formidable introduction.
Featuring current and former members of Rowco, Dent, Phoenix on the Faultline and Eyes On Fire, Join the Dead's groove-oriented hard rock/metal hybrid was a common noise over the last couple decades — something right at home on X103 before they became Alt 103.3.
That may not satisfy every headbanger, but it doesn't sound like Join the Dead care either. With Distorted Cognition, they're aiming at those who like to rock but still enjoy discernible hooks they can hang their chain wallets on.
Every member of this quartet offers an important contribution. Guitarists Steve Boyles and James Sweeney slash and burn throughout, while the rhythm section of drummer Jason Carr and bassist Casey McDermott introduce enough tempo changes to keep attentions spanning.
Singer Sahar Montalvo might be the most valuable player here. He simply wears these songs like skin, effortlessly oscillating between clean and harsh vocals and climbing an emotional ladder from calm to cacophonic. That range comes in handy when you have tracks like "Oceans," a mid-tempo manifesto that turns dancey on the choruses before inviting everyone to the pit.
Just as important, the production on Distorted Cognition is stellar. Produced and engineered by Brian "Bone" Thorburn at Threshold Studios, he gives every instrument its due space in the mix without overpowering the others. There's also plenty of effects — from vinyl static, surround sound and bottomless echoes — that accentuate rather than get in the way of the songs.
For those who like their rock with an unbridled sense of melodic ferocity, Join the Dead undoubtedly salutes you.
Their album release show is 7 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Rock House Cafe, with guests Pragmatic, Standout Story and Dead Man's Grill. Admission is $7 at the door.