Words By: Gerrod Harris
Release Date: July 31st, 2015, via Rise Records
I’ve never been a part of a fantasy football league, but looking at the list of contributing artists for Teenage Time Killers’ debut record, Greatest Hits Vol. 1, I feel like I’m involved in the musical equivalent of such. At the centre of this group is Corrosion of Conformity drummer, Reed Mullin, and My Ruin guitarist, Mick Murphy. The rest of the band consist of an all-star cast of punk and metal icons, filling in various instrumental and vocal slots, including Dave Grohl, who has recorded bass on over half of the album, and guest vocalists Corey Taylor and Randy Blythe.
“Exploder” – Greatest Hits Vol. 1 takes no time in getting started. The opening track, “Exploder”, is a nod to old school, hard-core punk music, and as the title suggests, is rather explosive. It’s heavy, and blisteringly fast, with really rough vocals. All in all, it leaves me excited for what else is to come on the record.
“Crowned By The Light Of The Sun” – This one takes things a lot slower; nothing wrong with that at all, especially when it is this sludgy. “Crowned By The Light Of The Sun” reminds me of something Seattle grunge bands of the 1990’s would have listened to and been inspired by in their founding days. Neil Fallon’s voice cuts through the heavily distorted guitars with great power and clarity, but what I enjoyed most is the highly dissonant lead guitar parts during and after the chorus sections.
“Hung Out To Dry” – Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe takes the microphone for this number, which seems to be a perfect blend between the modern metal Blythe normally performs, and the hard-core punk vibe Mullen and Murphy have been going for. The opening riff is an absolutely killer line, and the verse sections are so fast, it seems that the song will fall apart at any given moment, but they hold it comfortably on the verge of self-destruction, which is only further perpetuated by Blythe’s raspy, gravelly screams. The bridge section is quite refreshing as it places emphasis on the off beats, with a halftime feel, as opposed to the quarter note, on the beat driven punk feel.
“Power Outage” – The first half of “Power Outtage” seems like an intro to the second half; however the second/main part, I feel is too short. Clifford Dinsmore’s vocals are aggressive, and lyrically interesting, but the song has the potential to be much more. It’s certainly a song which would have benefited from overindulgence from the musicians involved. A great song, but I would have liked to of heard bigger drum fills, a guitar solo, and to have seen how the song could have further evolved.
“Ode To Hannity” – Taking aim at Fox “News” host Sean Hannity, Teenage Time Killers, along with the help of Dead Kennedy’s Jello Biafra, have adapted Monty Python founder John Cleese’s poem of the same name. It is clear by the song’s length of less than a minute and a half, that the inclusion of “Ode To Hannity” was less about the music, and more of a political statement against right-winged America.
“Barrio” – A much lighter song, contrasting greatly to the heavy tones of the previous songs, “Barrio” seems to borrow more from the pop punk cannon of the 2000’s, but much less of the pop textures and clichés associated with the genre. This is what pop punk should be in my opinion. The song also features a smooth guitar solo, and an anthem like chorus. It’s not hard to imagine this song echoed back from an audience in a stadium.
“The Dead Hand” – There isn’t too much to be said about this track. It’s fun and it’s simple. More importantly, what sticks out is that when Mullen steps away from his drum set to take over on lead vocals, much like “Exploder” the song sits comfortably on the line between old school punk rock, and metal. It is very common to find bands playing both punk and metal, but it is rarer and much more enjoyable when they can seamlessly employ various parts of both styles together.
“Egobomb” – Slipknot and Stone Sour frontman, Corey Taylor, leads this hard rocker further than I expected. The song starts off at a reasonable tempo, with a different, more triplet based feel behind it, and at roughly the halfway mark, it dives head first into a blistering punk tune with a ridiculously fast guitar solo. Taylor is certainly more versatile than I originally thought. “Egobomb” is definitely one of my favorite tracks off the record.
“Plank Walk” – The intro featured a really tight groove between the guitar, bass, and drums, which can also be heard in the chorus; however, I was not crazy about the verses. Pete Stahl has a solid voice, but I felt there was a certain level of disconnection between himself and the rest of the band.
“Time To Die” – This track seems like a tribute to the underground, pioneering punk scene of Los Angeles. It’s sloppy, it’s raw, and it is full of energy. The messier sound was likely an intentional homage to modern punk’s angsty roots.
“Days Of Degradation” – This track resembles a modern hard rock song than nearly the rest of this album. The verses, rather than a non stop blitzkrieg of power chords, powerful vocals, and heavy drums, “Days Of Degradation” has a unique emphasis on spaciousness in the verses. The main line, with its guitar chugging and dissonant squeals, and Tommy Victor’s smooth semi spoken to semi yelling vocals make for one of Greatest Hits Vol. 1 more entertaining songs.
“Clawhoof” – “Clawhoof” is another track which rests somewhere in between punk and metal, and does so with much energy and speed. This is also one of the few songs to feature a guitar solo, and a quite excellent one at that.
“Big Money” – Lee Ving’s voice had aged well, as it now sounds close to that of Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister. Pat Smear, of originally The Germs, and later, Foo Fighters, plays guitar on this track, adding a much thinner, crunchier guitar tone as opposed to the thick, distorted textures used throughout most of the record. The combination of Ving and Smear make for another amazing punk rock banger.
“Devil In This House” – Although Karl Agell’s voice is a little to dramatic sounding for my own taste, this song showcases a handful of badass guitar riffs which propel the song forward.
“Say Goodnight To The Acolyte” – This may be my favorite guitar riff on the entire record. Its emphasis on rhythmic space and use of off beats makes for an almost funky line, with the texture of a hard rock band. This riff is varied upon and used in different manners throughout different parts of the song. Phil Rind’s aggressive vocals top it all off, making it another one of the better tracks.
“Ignorant People” – I am not crazy about Tony Foresta’s vocal style, but the slower, halftime speed in the chorus and tasteful guitar solo make up for that. Vocals aside, “Ignorant People” is another great song.
“Son Of An Immigrant” – This track is very simple, but I think that’s what I like about it. The distorted guitar power chords and Sex Pistols inspired vocals from Johnny Webber make for a solid punk tune with a very catchy chorus.
“Your Empty Soul” – This is an absolutely haunting track. The main vocals are sung in a dragging manner and sit in very dissonant harmony with the guitar. It takes a certain something to really pull this off, but Teenage Time Killers do just that.
“Bleeding To Death” – This song is a straightforward thrasher. It is not all that unique, but it isn’t bad at all. The guitar solo is an especially welcomed edition to the song.
“Teenage Time Killers” – The album closes with a cover of British punk rockers Rudimentary Peni’s “Teenage Time Killer”. This song also inspired the name of the band, makings it a fitting tribute to cover it. Performed similarly to the original, the song features the song’s high pitched, dissonant lead guitar riff, and is over as fast as it started. A solid song; however, it does not leave the listener with the impression that the record has come to a conclusion.
All in all, Greatest Hits Vol. 1, is a solid record. From the skull wearing a leather jacket on the album artwork, to the impressive lineup of punk and metal heroes, Teenage Time Killer is a unique effort full of fast paced, heavy, and often dark material and is likely one of the most relevant things to have happened to the punk genre in years. It may not be the most creative or technically demanding record I’ve heard in a while, but it was fun to listen to and unique in its ability to capture such a raw and organic punk rock essence. This may be just the revitalizing surge that the genre needs. Although they have stated they will not tour, it would be interesting to see future releases showcasing even more musicians, perhaps John Lydon or Iggy Pop, or even Zack de la Rocha. One can only dream.
1: Exploder- Reed Mullin (Vocals), Pat Hoed (Bass), London May (Drums)
2: Crowned By The Light Of The Sun-Neil Fallon (Vocals), Jim Rota (Guitar), Dave Grohl (Bass)
3: Hung Out To Dry-Randy Blythe (Vocals), Mike Schaefer (Guitar), Dave Grohl (Bass)
4: Power Outage-Clifford Dinsmore (Vocals), Dave Grohl (Bass)
5: Ode To Hannity-Jello Biafra (Vocals), Mike Dean (Bass)
6: Barrio-Matt Skiba (Vocals), Brian Baker (Guitar)
7: The Dead Hand-Reed Mullin (Vocals), Woody Weatherman (Guitar), Dave Grohl (Bass)
8: Egobomb-Corey Taylor (Vocals), Dave Grohl (Bass)
9: Plank Walk-Pete Stahl (Vocals), Greg Anderson (Guitar), Dave Grohl (Bass)
10: Time To Die-Mike IX Williams (Vocals), Greg Anderson (Guitar)
11: Days Of Degradation-Tommy Victor (Vocals), Dave Grohl (Bass)
12: Clawhoof-Tairrie B. Murphy (Vocals), Dave Grohl (Bass)
13: Big Money-Lee Ving (Vocals), Pat Smear (Guitar & Bass), London May (Drums)
14: Devil In This House-Karl Agell (Vocals), Dave Grohl (Bass)
15: Say Goodnight To The Acolyte-Phil Rind (Vocals), Jason Browning (Guitar), Dave Grohl (Bass)
16: Ignorant People-Tony Foresta (Vocals), Greg Anderson (Guitar), Nick Oliveri (Bass)
17: Son Of An Immigrant-Johnny Weber (Vocals), Brian Baker (Guitar)
18: Your Empty Soul-Aaron Beam (Vocals)
19: Bleeding to Death-Vic Bondi (Vocals), Dave Grohl (Bass)
20: Teenage Time Killer-Trenton Rogers (Vocals), Greg Anderson (Guitar), Pat Hoed (Bass)