If you were born no later than 1985, you might remember a time when there was still intelligent life in rock-pop music. Bands like The Police, INXS, The Smiths etc. had songs you could dance to, but which also made you think. Many of them were capable of filling stadiums too, which gave birth to the term “arena rock”. Unfortunately, a series of meteorites hit Planet Pop through the years: rap, Napster, Spotify and the like, little by little seemed to create holes through which all neurons of pop artists seemed to leak.
Although a few of such bands, now called dinosaurs, have survived, for the most part they don’t seem to attract even half the interest they did in their heyday. Pop music as we know today is dominated by solo rap artists who resort to similar beats, looks and chord progressions, and youngsters seem to embrace this disposable form of art, much like fast food for the ears. Out with the guitars, in with the DJ turntables.
However, not everything is bad news for those who crave guitar-driven songs and fists-in-the-air choruses. Straight outta Cullman, Alabama, comes a band called Shallow Side, who have taken it to be their personal holy mission to spread the gospel of modern rock & roll as far and as wide as they can to anyone who will listen. After releasing a few EPs through the years, they have now embarked in their most ambitious chapter to date, with the first full-length entitled Saints & Sinners released last March 29th via Thermal Entertainment. Containing ten original tracks, the album has the potential to propel Shallow Side in the charts and grant them a well-deserved exposure to larger audiences.
Recorded at the Barbarosa Studio in Orlando, FL, Saints & Sinners could not have benefitted from a better producer than rock and metal giant Michael “Elvis” Baskette (Incubus, Alter Bridge, Chevelle, Three Days Grace, Slash). Together, the band and Elvis managed to put shape to many ideas they had collected through their formative years, and the result is an eclectic collection of songs, which gracefully transits between rock, pop, country, grunge and metal.
The brooding riff of “Revival” is a great introduction to the album, with bold lyrics showing the band’s true colors right off the bat: “I wasn’t born to be a follower, I was born to lead”. On the title track, equal doses of country, metal and grunge are added to the mix, and what comes out of the sonic blender is a slow rocker with a singable chorus, which could be best described as the bastard son of Alice in Chains and Bon Jovi. Next up comes the title track, which starts off in a pure soul-blues ballad mode vein with verses sung over a delicately strummed guitar, and develops into a meaty riff and choruses that will linger in your ears for days to come. Next the 2:10 minute mark there’s a slight Megadeth-like moment in the rhythm section and immediately after a beautiful guitar solo by Seth Trimble – one that is sadly too short, but could have signed by Slash himself – takes the song even higher, before the mood circles back one more time to the initial melodies and the emotive chorus.
Seth Trimble takes matters into his hands in arguably the heaviest songs in this release “Sound the Alarm,” cranking up his amp to 11 and adding the right does of grittiness to the band’s sound. Rightfully chosen as the first single from the album, the massive earworm choruses dominate the preceedings, and the track revolves around inspirational and anthemic hooks that won’t quit. It is followed by one of the most intriguing songs on the album, the grunge-metal “Drugs & Lust”, where a pulsating bass line is engulfed by open chords and yet another captivating chorus, wrapped by dynamic metal riffs. Did we mention these guy write catchy tunes?
“Temptations” slow things down a bit, with echoes of Tom Petty and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, an all-too-familiar chord progression and haunting vocal performances alongside a sludgy riff. The crunchy guitar tone makes a comeback in the fast-paced, engaging, addictive and almost radio-friendly “Hallelujah,” a tune that skillfully transpire the 80’s-style stadium rock spirit. The effect-laden “No More” is a great vehicle for singer Eric Boatright and drummer Heath Fields to shine, a riff-heavy rocker that asserts itself immediately and never loses its grip, meanwhile “All Rise” serves up another massive portion of vocal goodness, paired with darker riffing and groovy, ever-changing drum fills. Obviously this wouldn’t be a textbook arena rock album without the customary ballad, and here that box is ticked with the poignant and uplifting “Not Alone”. The album closes on a high note, with “Carry On” appropriately capturing the essence of Shallow Side, and being destined to please those who long for angelic vocals, downright melodic and well-structured guitar lines, and an ever-forward hard-hitting rhythm section.
Whether or not Shallow Side will be able to fill out stadiums across the globe is hard to predict, and considering the awful state of the music business, that is probably an herculean task. However, one thing is for sure: based on Saints & Sinners, they will surely conquer a wider fan base this year, and bring at least some hope that the balance between catchiness and content in rock-pop music is somewhat restored. The band has toured non-stop in recent years, and will continue to do so in 2019. Well-conceived and intelligently performed, there’s enough heft and craft in Saints & Sinners to satisfy even the most skeptical ears.
Bring your lighters, raise your fists and prepare your voice, because if they’re in your neck of the woods this summer, Shallow Side is a concert you do not want to miss! Filed under 2019 wonderful surprises.
Released by: Thermal Entertainment
Released Date: March 29th 2019
Genre: Modern Hard Rock
- Eric Boatright / Vocals
- Seth Trimble / Lead Guitar
- Heath Fields / Drums
- Matt Daniels / Bass
“Saints & Sinners” Track-listing:
2. Saints & Sinners
3. Sound The Alarm
4.Drugs & Lust
7. No More
8. All Rise
9. Not Alone
10. Carry One
On “Saints and Sinners”, Shallow Side take cues from Bon Jovi and Travis Tritt, as well as Guns n Roses and Alice in Chains. It’s an eclectic album which is never tiresome – clocking in at just 37 minutes, it’s the rock fix that the new generation has been craving but hadn’t even noticed.