Brace For Impact, the 4th album release from Seattle rockers CUSTOM, is a project that warns you quite precisely of the weight and energy you’re about to experience as you press play.
No Regrets is the first track on this new album and it explodes onto the scene with infectious, energizing guitars and drums, all supported and guided by a leading vocalist who was surely born to be in a rock band. The song is loud yet really well structured, there’s a method to the boldness of its presentation – everything unfolds page by page, as if this were a short film. The changing melodies, the solos, the switch in pace, the passion – all of this plays out brick by brick, before fusing brilliantly to create an immersive and uplifting, classic prog-rock offering.
Drugstore Prophet follows the opener with a more spacious and softly stylish ambiance. The grit and skill is still there, categorically so, but there’s a delicacy now, the lyrics become the center of attention – a fascinating story emerges – and so as the intensity builds the concept grows stronger and the whole thing becomes artistically interesting in a number of different ways. The sound leans back and forth between the likes of Audioslave and Iron Maiden, fusing nostalgia and drama with something decidedly new.
The further you get into this collection the more you feel as if you should be out at a Harley festival somewhere – dancing fast and spilling your beer. Lonely Girl is a fairly low-key song at first, but the rhythm is superb, and the switch from the verse to the hook has so much strength thanks to an effective use of contrast. There’s optimism in the guitar parts here and the words hold tight to your attention. This one is a personal highlight, it becomes quickly familiar, easy to sing along to, emotionally loaded and interesting in the way that a favourite song should be.
Love Of Rock continues to showcase CUSTOM’s superb musicianship, the cascading electric guitars and the epic opening drum-roll create a huge ambiance that supports the good vibes of the song’s sentiment in a brilliant way. A somewhat more serious and inspiring Tenacious D vibe comes through at this point, a refreshing comparison as it’s been a while since any artist or band has crafted and performed rock music to quite these heights. It’s worth saying once more – David Lyon, the band’s vocalist, is perfect for these songs.
15 To Life takes things in a slightly more serious or provocative direction. The energy is on point and in keeping with the mood of the EP, but the concept deals with something a little more intriguing and personal seeming. The lyrics are simple yet striking, and the melody develops in a compelling way that sees the anticipation grows immensely.
That Audioslave or even Pearl Jam vibe returns for On Me, a stunning song and another personal favourite. The band contrast space and density in a manner that lets the instrumentation and the vocal melody compliment one another in a powerful way. The verses are gentle and hypnotic, heartfelt, and the build-up and hook hit with superb impact because of this. This song feels like it means something very real, which brings you closer to the artists at the centre of it – that honest essence connects in a mighty way.
Farther Faster Higher brings the album to a close with every bit of energy and volume that the title promises. The band bring together everything from before now to leave you with one last intense and memorable few minutes of their sound and their approach to music.
As a band, CUSTOM’s experience is unquestionable – the speed with which some of these tracks has been performed and recorded is insane, and the unity between elements – the tightness between band members – is phenomenal. Even when things break down to the delicate, as they occasionally do just to keep things varied and appealing, the band highlight a shared ability to cater for the emotion of the moment in a fitting and furiously effective way. From a songwriting perspective, there’s a lot to love about this playlist. Listen loud and experience the exuberance first hand.