Urge Overkill should have been huge. They had the chops, the songs, and the style. They had everything a band would need to bring the rock stylings in a hard way. Founding members Nash Kato and Eddie Roeser created a sound that was arena rock as played by kids who grew up on Black Flag.
Jesus Urge Superstar, Americruiser and The Supersonic Storybook were strong testaments to how good Urge Overkill was becoming. In 1993 they released Saturation, an incredible record that was nearly flawless from end to end. In 1994 Quentin Tarantino used their cover of Neil Diamond’s “Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon” in Pulp Fiction and the world started catching on to Urge Overkill. Then, for numerous reasons, it all went wrong and the band ceased to be
Jump from 1995 to 2011 and we find Urge Overkill is back with their first album of new material in sixteen years titled Rock N Roll Submarine. Kato and Roeser are reunited and along for the ride are Gaza Strippers bassist Mike Hodgkiss and Cherry Valence drummer Brian Quast. So, is Rock N Roll Submarine the rock giant that will return Urge Overkill to their former glory?
I don’t say that as a shot, but as a fact I think even the band is aware of. Urge Overkill doesn’t sound like they’re trying to shoot the moon and return to where they were during the full grunge era. Instead Rock N Roll Submarine is a rock-fueled kick in the nuts to an era that is mired in emo crybabies, screaming heavy metal infants and rock bands that don’t rock. From the opening guitar strum, Rock N Roll Submarine is the real deal, complete with great riffs, cool guitar harmonies and something rare in the modern rock world, great songs.
Opening track “Mason/Dixon” is classic Urge Overkill. Opening with riff that The Cult would be jealous of. With huge drums and thick bass backing them up, the band kicks open the door and crashes the party. As soon as Nash Kato’s Tom-Petty-had-a-kid-with-Neil-Young voice crackles in, the album becomes a reality. The title track follows and it’s a drinking song. I don’t mean a beer guzzling rock jam but a tune played while young rockers in suits enjoyed some cocktails. In other words Rock N Roll Submarine, song and album, are a good fucking time.
The surprising thing here is that all the bad blood hasn’t hurt Kato and Roeser’s ability to write great songs. No matter how simple the music is all the greats have had great songwriting in their corner. AC/DC, The Cult, Thin Lizzy, they all knew that it would take more than attitude and groove to become legends. Urge Overkill understands that as well and apply generous helpings of the idea to Rock N Roll Submarine. The driving complexity of “Little Vice”, the softer acoustic “Quiet Person”, the eighties space rock vibe of “Touched To A Cut”, these are all gems that show diversity throughout the good time rock party.
For those who haven’t heard the single “Effigy”, I urge you to check it out. Only Urge Overkill could write a tune that sounds like Rick Springfield covering Kiss tunes. Anybody who digs “Effigy” will become a fan of Rock N Roll Submarine, guaranteed. It will never be 1995 again for Urge Overkill but Rock N Roll Submarine lets us know that the band is still here, drink in hand and kicking ass without spilling a drop.
CRAVEONLINE RATING 8 OUT OF 10