(By Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Senior Writer/Journalist, RiffRelevant.com)
One man musical endeavors, projects, or whatever terminology you prefer, are and can be a risky venture, ya know?
One reason, there is nobody to blame shit on if it ultimately flops or fails to do anything but suck, right? With a band, there are generally other personages present, ones that are able to bear some brunt of the blame if things aren’t kosher or well received.
Such is not the case, nor does it need to be, with Oakland’s WRACK, which is the one man musical vehicle for multi-instrumentalist Tyler Cox. Tyler is best known as the drummer within the jazz fusion / progressive metal band The Mass, but here within WRACK he provides vocals, bass, guitar, drums, and more (he recorded and produced, too).
His latest offering, the three-song ‘Hollow Sun‘ EP, is arriving some nine years after our initial introduction to WRACK with the 2009 Graveyard EP. Though nearly a decade has passed between the two offerings, the latest EP stays true to the core elements of its predecessor. That means there are still components of heavy sludge and post-hardcore accounted for, with an overt knack for traversing experimental avenues.
At the same time, there is also a more clear-cut path of metallic aggression being tread upon here and that is undeniably evident in the opening salvo “Kill Eye“. Right off the line comes the chugging of massive riffs and throat-wrenching guttural vocals, all fortified by the pulverizing drums taking place. With angular guitars and dense rhythmic emanations ringing out, the song’s 10+ minutes playing time allows for a lot of aural ground to be covered, and decimated.
That template for aggression is once again followed on the second song, the “Hollow Sun” title track. It bursts forth with increased intensity and purpose, driving its way into your skull and careening about once it arrives there. Riffs fire away and ricochet, then resonate upon their invisible plateaus as menacing vocalizations bellow. With passages of brief melodic respite, others of isolated bass lines or high-pitched, whining guitar feedback, “Hollow Sun” is chock full of impacting musicality.
If there is an “odd man out” here – and I use that reference in the most positive of ways – then it is the third and final composition, “I Will Not Be Peace“. The song’s lighter vibes are instantly felt at first, helped in part by some great stand-alone guitar riffs, before things altogether implode. Some bouncing bass work, set far up in the mix so that it’s quite prominent, provides a nice bit of spine for the song’s harmonious, Thin Lizzy-esque riffs.
It has quickly become my favorite track of the three, and one that features some additional vocal contributions from Tyler Cox‘s The Mass band mate, Matt Waters. The cut provides an incredible high note on which to end the EP, but I have some good news for you all concerning that.
The “Hollow Sun” EP from WRACK is streaming here in the review, of course, but you can also stream it over at Bandcamp [HERE] where it is currently a NYP (Name Your Price) item. That means you can pick it up for your collection quite easily and can just jam the crap outta it again and again, if you are so inclined. I know I have been… and have done exactly that… on repeat… repeat… and repeat.