Groove-oriented hard rock has long been synonymous with the Southern rock sound of bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ted Nugent, Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR), and many others. Many modern bands, such as Black Label Society, Shinedown, Theory of a Deadman, etc, have continued this flavor of the South with a newer twist of rock & roll. They combine groove, attitude, and a raw sound that has become a staple of rock & roll. When listening to this type of music, one can’t help but have visions of motorcycles, whiskey, and leather jackets worn by guys who will start a bar fight if looked at the wrong way. Killcode, a New York City based band, definitely falls into this category with their latest self-titled release “Killcode”. They are all that is rock & roll AND a bag of chips (preferably Doritos).
After releasing two successful EPs (“To Die For” and “Taking it All”) and touring constantly both in the U.S. and internationally, Killcode spent a good amount of time writing this full-length album. Their efforts show on the album, as the production is nothing less than professional. Killcode is comprised of vocalist Tom Morrissey, guitarists Chas & Pat Harrington, bassist Erric Bonesmith, and drummer Rob Noxious. All the members’ performances are tight as White House security but they still maintain a raw and raunchy sound full of feel, groove, and attitude. The album has a polished yet not over-produced sound, which is refreshing in today’s world of music.
The songwriting is quite diverse throughout the record, ranging from rockin’ high energy tunes to soulful, mellow songs. The album opens up with a country flavor with the song “Still Here”, making use of some slide guitar and a foot-stomping groove. The rock continues with the tracks “Hands Up” and “Tied” before switching to the more mellow “Wrong Side”. From there the album rocks for several tracks, riding a wave made up of some Black Sabbath-esque downtempo songs mixed with high-intensity rock & roll. This ebb and flow is a theme recurring throughout the whole album, both lyrically and musically. The dichotomy of life’s beautiful moments and its dark moments are present in the songs with a “bring it” attitude. The band expresses that they are ready for anything, both the good and the bad, and enjoy every second of it. One can’t help but feel like a badass when listening to this record. Perhaps it’s due to Killcode’s confidence and bravado which is contagious through their music, or perhaps it’s all the whiskey that goes so well with it.
Surprisingly the best songs on the record are the mellower tracks “Wrong Side” and “Trust”, which features guest vocalist Angelina DelCarmen from the NYC band Charetta. The songwriting on these tunes is concise, full of hooks, and is very melodic. The other tracks have no absence of hooks but at times they blur together a bit, sounding a little similar in the middle of the album. Even so, the guys in Killcode did a great job on the record and maintain their own style throughout the whole album, never compromising to try to write a song that sounds like a commercial pop song. By keeping this honesty, Killcode has touched on a little bit of the magic from those classic Southern rock songs.
The Southern sound is something that Americans have enjoyed for so long. Maybe it’s the simplicity of the instrumentation, the honesty of the lyrics, and the sheer fun of the vibe. Killcode has all of the aforementioned traits and will resonate with rock fans everywhere. Just don’t look at them the wrong way in a bar if you run into them… they might just make you enjoy yourself.