Deceptively good melodic riff rock sounds like a good way to describe this debut release from Crushed. With the name "Crushed," I was expecting something a little heavier, a little dirtier, and a little more raw. What I got was something in a different direction. The Phoenix, AZ based quintet hooked up with producer Mike Clink and together put out a solid crisp album that is sure to garner at least a little attention — attention it deserves.
Crushed is a band that had little impact on me the first time through, but it has an addictive quality that grows on you, not unlike a fungus. You know the kind of band that just gets under your skin and begins to affect you little by little until you are sucked into the sound and admit that it is actually pretty darn good. Their songs deliver a mix of strong riffs and melody, forging ahead into the realm between radio rock and something more, playing both sides of the coin against the middle.
As I listened to them, two other bands came to mind. They may seem like an unlikely pair, and you are quite likely not to hear it, sometimes I pull strange things out of what I listen to. OK, the two bands are Filter and Korn. That's right, Crushed reminds me of those two bands. The biggest comparison is that vocalist/guitarist Mark Lauer's voice sounds like a cross between Korn's Jonathan Davis and Filter's Richard Patrick. Beyond that, the band offers up some nice melodic hard rock that has shades of Filter, while they are not adverse to offering up something a little bit harder, in the Korn vein, but not quite.
Despite these comparisons, Crushed's sound stands on its own. The music is strongly driven by the guitar and the grooves they lay down, and they certainly get a big and thick sound that simultaneously delivers crunch and smooth melody. The guitar duties are handled by Mark Lauer, Mike Halland, and Harry McCaleb who splits time on keyboard. There are a lot of guitars on this album, including some nice use of acoustic to back the electric, a sound that I have always enjoyed. Not to be left behind is the solid rhythm section of bassist Michael Brown and drummer Jeff Garten. I cannot say that either one was spectacular, although Garten had some nice drum fills and keep things lively, this is not to say they aren't good, it is more like they are perfectly suited for the music that Crushed delivers.
My Machine kicks off with a pair of crunchy rockers that I can imagine being great live, "What Kind of Life" and "Hovering." That is followed up by the lighter, more melodic "Dwell," offering a different look at the band. Other highlights on the album include the nice "Crash Coping," the heavier "A Game of You," and the acoustic "Everything's Gone."
Bottomline. They aren't going to immediately grab you, but they will take up residence in your head as the melodies sink in. They bring a nice variety to the table and have the talent to bring it to the next level. I suspect that we have not heard the last of Crushed and their next outing will be closer to realizing their talent.