The steel towns of America bring to mind a sad image of abandoned, decaying homes. It comes as no surprise then that a band coming from such a town themselves – New Castle, Pennsylvania, to be precise – sound as raw as When Summer’s Gone does in its album Knockout Mechanism. Strong instrumental talent comes together with life experience to bring to life a good album.
Dissatisfied with the superficiality of the lyrics featured in so much of the music I have found, I have been on the lookout for artists who I feel have more depth. While I do not listen to that much hard rock, I was intrigued by When Summer’s Gone’s claim that they are making music only because they love to do it, and not because they are chasing fame. They state that while fans, money, and success are good things to have and would not be turned down by the band, they ultimately are making music they love.
The result is the recent release in February of this year of a fourth full-length album, which seems to be as well received as its predecessors, December, Ocean Boulevard, and their self-titled album. Lead singer Dave Graziani, who also plays the guitar and his bandmates Chris Lepri on drums, AJK on guitar, and Rich Morrone on bass, have created over the course of two years a heavy, introspective, and sometimes violent album sound which captured my attention throughout. I also appreciated that, despite the fact that When Summer’s Gone isn’t making music for any other reason than love for the art, their catchy album has been worked on by talented individuals with an ear for refinement.
The album starts with “After All,” an upbeat and guitar-driven song reminiscent of Nirvana, with only the relatively weak vocals coming as a surprise, and “All Out War” sounds as angry as the title implies. The next three songs – “Threadbare”, “Like Ghosts”, and “001” – feel like a slower-paced, Nickelback-themed bridge before the high tempo ride continues, with the last one strongly reminiscent of “How You Remind Me”.
The high energy continues with the next three songs, “We All Fall Down”, “Each Day”, and “Pale Thoughts,” all of which feature great guitar and drumming with strong vocals. Knockout Mechanism ends on a very slow song, “Reborn”, which is completely different from the rest of the album but leaves the listener satisfied.
The aim of the band was to “create music that speaks to the first generation who can’t rightfully expect to live better than their parents did.” Each set of songs – the first loud set, the calm bridge, the continuation of the high tempo ride, and the last haunting sounds on the album – captures a different aspect of this reality: the anger, the anxiety, the introspection, and the agony of despair. The story of this generation of youth with little to no hope is captured in a unique and catchy way in Knockout Mechanism and is bound to stir some reflection on the matter.