As more and more bands continue to look back to the 70s for inspiration, it’s inevitable that the lines between heavy metal and hard rock will, once again, become blurred. After all, many of the bands we think of as the Godfathers of heavy metal, such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin, weren’t even called heavy metal in their day.
In the last decade or so, a new crop of bands have sprung up, armed with bluesy hard rock riffs, taking cues equally from Black Sabbath, Monster Magnet, and Clutch. Pottsville, Pennsylvania’s Crobot is one of the most notable acts among this group. With a sound that mixes hard rock, stoner metal, blues, and a little bit of funk, they create tunes reminiscent of Soundgarden, Queens of The Stone Age, and Monster Magnet, as well as every super loud blues/hard rock band of the 70s.
Welcome To Fat City, Crobot’s latest effort, is one seriously fun record to listen to, with bluesy, funky hard rock numbers that tell the story of a fictional planet called “Fat City.” Vocalist Brandon Yeagley gives a really strong performance here, with a voice that falls somewhere between John Cronise of The Sword and Chris Cornell from Soundgarden. The riffs are often drenched in a fuzzy overdrive that would sound right at home on any number of “desert rock” albums by Queens of The Stone Age or Brant Bjork. The pace never really gets past a mid-paced boogie, as can be heard on the funky title track, “Welcom To Fat City,” but the way Crobot attacks each bar packs enough of a punch that they really don’t need to speed things up.
“Not For Sale” is a slightly quicker number, with a cool galloping rhythm at the beginning, and a super catchy chorus, and one of Brandon’s strongest performances on the record. “Hold On For Dear Life” has a slower pace, and a slightly murkier tone, but the heavy Black Sabbath-style riff manages to hold your attention, making it my favorite track on the record. “Moment of Truth” has a similarly slow pace, thanks to the laid-back blues guitar work that builds up in to the wailing heavy metal chorus; the change of dynamics is flawless, and shows a band that is really on top of their game.
While many of the ideas and tones on this record have been explored before, Crobot somehow manage to make it all sound fresh and exciting. The production here is pretty clean sounding, but not so clean that the fuzzed out guitar tone loses any of its power. The bass and 6-string guitars work together so well in order to create a heavy edge, you almost wonder why bands feel the need to tune everything down to get a “heavier” tone. Though there are certainly multiple tracks used for the guitars and vocals, nothing sounds excessively overproduced, and still gives you a pretty good idea of what Crobot would sound like in a live setting.
If you’re looking for something with a little bit of a heavier edge, the poppy/funky bits on Welcome To Fat City might be a bit of a turn-off, but I encourage you to give this record a shot anyway. It’s a very rewarding listening experience, and will grow on you with each repeated listen, if it somehow doesn’t manage to catch your attention from the beginning. If you like the bluesier side of Soundgarden, Monster Magnet, or Brant Bjork, this record will definitely be a great addition to your collection.