Reverse Mount Rushmore – The North Dakota EP // REVIEW

By Isaac Thompson

The North Dakota EP starts off with a bang. The one-two punch of up-tempo rockers ‘His Old Self’ and ‘Fluids’ is akin to an injection of 101-proof adrenaline straight into the ear-hole. These two songs in particular are a perfect introduction to the Toronto-based group. They showcase what RMR is capable of:

- Aggressive anthems to burn your house down to

- Quirky, heavy and distorted stoner rock riffs mixed with intricate guitar runs.

- G-R-O-O-V-E

- Squid-like melodies that wrap their tentacles around your brain and scar you with their suction-cups

- Harmonies that are pretty yet still have balls.

Both ‘His Old Self’ and ‘Fluids’ are excellent hard rock songs but they are also recorded perfectly. The sound on the album isn’t as crisp sounding as the more well known Toronto bands, but that works perfectly for a group like RMR. That’s not to say the album sounds bad either; it has just the right amount of lo-fi edge to capture the gritty beauty of the band and just enough polish to keep things from getting muddy. The mix reminds me of something you might hear from a band like Husker Du or the Replacements.

The band mixes it up a bit with the instrumental 3rd track ‘Art School Project’. Although it’s an instrumental, the song doesn’t abandon RMR’s sound at all. The song jams around a stoner-rock riff that ebbs and flows between a sweet ethereal wash of synth and a pounding rhythm section. The song intensifies and builds and then drops off for something of a drum solo, leading to a satisfying climactic ending.

The last half of the EP returns to more familiar territory, pummeling the listener with one fantastic rocker after another. ‘A Song’ grooves along like the missing link between Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age. ‘Hit Wall In Fashion’ is a raunchy number that should be listened to while racing down the highway in a high-speed getaway. ‘Le Chez Noire’ reminds me of Sub Pop era Soundgarden with a little Screaming Trees thrown in, which (in my opinion anyway) isn’t just a good thing, it’s an awesome thing. ‘Le Chez Noire’ is a slower track, but it transcends ballad territory with its haunting force. It opens itself up for one powerful old-school-style guitar solo.

The album ends with “The Coup” which has some of the best harmonies on the album. The song is a deceiving one. It begins with some light guitar and a dreamy sounding harmony on the verse. It isn’t until the ominous marching drums kick in that the threat of bombast bellows. Still, the song contains itself, squeezing every bit of emotion out of its melody while gradually building in intensity. At about the two minute mark the dogs are unleashed. The light guitar has become a barreling guitar riff that marches to the rolling drums and passionate screams. The song (and album) ends not with a whimper but with a bang. The band brings the conclusion of “The Coup” to a boil with wailing guitars, pulsing bass and crazy cymbal crashes.

The North Dakota E.P. is one of my favorite albums at the moment. It has a style reminiscent of a lot of the best rock of the late 80’s and early 90’s but it isn’t just a lame re-hash. Reverse Mount Rushmore have a sound of their own and they’ve wisely chosen which giants they’ll stand on the shoulders of. The North Dakota E.P. shows a lot of potential from this relatively young band. I'm interested to see where they go from here. in the meantime, The North Dakota EP is a real treat for rock fans because, well, it rocks. Hard.


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