Seven years in the making, Boston hard rock/metal band Sonic Disorder (featuring ex-members of 16 Years of Grace and a new singer) is ready to release their long-awaited second LP, Human Kind, on September 19. It follows their 2008 self-titled debut, which garnered positive reviews from the Boston press and airplay from influential Boston/Worcester FM radio station WAAF, among other places.
When you first start listening to the new disc, you don’t really notice all that much that the band has a new singer – and that’s a good thing. New frontman Steve DiPersio seamlessly blends in with the group – he takes over for longtime singer John Boyle, who only had to leave the band because he couldn’t make time for music anymore but is still beloved by his bandmates.
While their debut CD was chock full of balls out heavy rock with some downtime here and there, the new release still has plenty of crunchy metallic flavor (opener “Superhero,” “Demons in the Dark,” and “Breathe”) as well as killer (wah-wah pedal-aided) solos courtesy of lead guitarist Rick Collins. But there is more depth to their sound than ever. As rhythm guitarist and SD producer Jeff Briggette recently told me: “I feel like the first 5 or 6 songs is really the core of our sound but still show the diversity that makes me proud to be in this band.”
The moment of truth to the diversity part of that quote can definitely be heard on tracks four and five, the spacious guitar instrumental “Toy Soldier (Part One)” and the melodramatic hard rockin’ “Toy Soldier,” respectively. These and other tunes contain themes like “war/chaos,” focusing not so much on the political angle but instead on the toll it takes on (American) soldiers. (Ex. “I’m just a killing machine/Who cannot feel,” DiPersio sings on “Toy Soldier” over somber piano melodies.)
Elsewhere, “Just Another Day” (which in its previous incarnation in live shows with Boyle still in the band was known as “Skin and Bones”), sees Collins getting to show off a little bit of Pearl Jam/Hendrix-ish Strat work using the Uni-Vibe pedal. “Masquerade” also has some Uni-Vibe action and even has a hint of Core-era STP to it, but overall “is kind of a different sound for us,” as Briggette explained.
With all the hard and heavy goods on here, the most surprising highlight on this release (at least to these ears) is the album closer, “A Sign of Things to Come?” Talk about depth, this dark and dreamy acoustic number features Briggette on cello, bassist Gerald Brown on double bass, beautifully tender violins by Katy Boc, as well as semi-howling and resonating, light guitar harmonics throughout. SD should be damn proud of themselves for such a cool and bold ending to an album.
Some fans may miss Boyle’s vocals, which have a Scott Weiland-meets-Ian Astbury (The Cult) sound to them. Many more will gladly welcome DiPersio’s own style (which, at least on this record, is almost as strong and dynamic). Or (as this reviewer does) have feelings both ways. And some metal/hard rock purists may not dig the one or two relatively softer spots on here as much as the rest of the meatier, kick-ass tracks – if you really don’t care for the captivating aforementioned album closer, I’d have to question your sanity. All can agree, however, that Sonic Disorder’s second full-length, Human Kind, is no sophomore slump – more like a solid jump, forward.
Catch Sonic Disorder at their CD release party on Saturday, September 19 at the Beachcomber in Quincy, MA (with supporting acts This Brain & I, and the amazing Riki Rocksteady, starting at 9:00 p.m. EST). It will be one of the beloved venue’s last ever shows before it closes for good later this month after 56 years (Count Basie, Dropkick Murphys, Del Fuegos, Tony Bennett, and countless local musicians, yours truly included, have been lucky enough to have performed there over the years). Visit the official Sonic Disorder website for more info.
Key tracks: “Superhero,” “Demons in the Dark,” “Toy Soldier,” “A Sign of Things to Come?”
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