Maximum RNR – [Album]

Saturday, 06 July 2013

It feels like the height of rock critic snobbery to claim that, after over a decade together, Toronto's Maximum RNR have finally slammed together an effort which truly deserves attention on a massive scale, but there's just no other way to qualify how good Rough Side Of The Dial is. Prior to this point, sure – Maximum RNR could record a good seven-inch and make listeners recognize how good a band they were on the strength of that (the band's shows are something which need to be seen to be understood), but the band's long-playing releases always came up short; even the best of those before now, The Black And White Years, didn't hold a consistent tone and occasionally devolved into forgettable goo at points along its run-time. Rough Side Of The Dial doesn't suffer from the problems of its predecessors though. Living up to its name, Rough Side Of The Dial is definitely a little rough around the edges (the album features eleven songs contained within seven tracks and plays at thirteen minutes total, and that program is repeated five times on the CD), but it blazes with a heat, power and focus that the band has never shown fans before and really serves them well.

After a sort of half-started street punk squeal of an intro which sort of trips over itself at the beginning of the record (“Clacked… Almost In”), Maximum RNR stomps through “Ire Of The Ram” with a methodical pacing that is almost unprecedented for this band. Closer to Black Sabbath than Motorhead, the instrumental track just sort of plods through its arc but, because it's just so out-of-left-field for Maximum RNR, listeners will find themselves paying incredibly close attention to it. Because of that, they'll be able to pick out the finer points of rhythm guitarist KK Mauronik's molten guitar (which gets topped perfectly by Keith Carman's incendiary licks) as well as the roiling rhythm section of bassist Curtis Fox and drummer Mike Childs. The sound is epic, but the contrast set up by “Trainwreck” (the song which follows it) is what will make jaws drop. Without warning, Maximum RNR just shatters a land speed record as they go from “crawl” in “Ire Of The Ram” to “sprint” in “Trainwreck,” and never break stride again. It's there that the band's adrenaline shoots through the roof as singer Diamond Brent Panther takes the mic, sounding like he's already fuming on a truckload of amphetamines and, after that, it's a whole different ball game; the guitars take on a 'southern-fried and on speed' vibe, and the result is perfectly absorbing. Listeners will feel like they've gone from being brutally assaulted (on “Ire Of The Ram”) to like they've just been hit by, well, a train on “Trainwreck.” That train keeps speeding along as songs like “Attack Panther,” “Missing Leeds” and “Hangin' Judge” all blaze through like they're on rails which have been honed to a perfectly squalid street punk sheen, and listeners will find that they're a perfect play in spite of each being less than two minutes long; in fact, as listeners are hit with the songs again and again thanks to the album's five-cycle play, they'll realize that the songs would be exhausting if they were longer but, by keeping them short, the band ensures that listeners are left wanting more and end up welcoming the fact that the songs repeat as they do on the CD. Because they repeat, listeners get the chance to look at each two, three, four and five times in succession to ensure they didn't blink and miss something along the way, and listening repeatedly guarantees that the songs get driven into listeners' minds.

Because of the way it's presented and because the songs are the best ones that Maximum RNR has ever committed to tape, there's no question that Rough Side Of The Dial is the best full-length album that Maximum RNR has released by a huge margin. Now, granted, some fans will say they always knew the band was capable of something like this, and that may be true; it has just never happened before and that's still another reason why this album is special. Maximum RNR proved long ago that they were capable of releasing great songs, but Rough Side Of The Dial is the band's first great collection of songs; here's hoping they've got more in them.



Rough Side Of The Dial
is out now. Buy it here , directly from the band.

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