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On Top - Top Dollar

On Top
Top Dollar
by Jason “Monotonija” McCraw at 30 October 2017, 2:57 PM

ON TOP named themselves this for a reason: As far as the Philadelphia, PA hard rock scene goes, they are definitely “on top” of it all. The new four-song smasher “Top Dollar” showcases just why these heavy rockers are so revered. Many elements are at play here, and instead of becoming just another cut-and-paste recording utilizing overplayed elements of Rock/Metal and melding them into an obscure, cliché mess, ON TOP delivers a short and to-the-point record that never lets up from beginning to end, combining heavy glam-inspired riffing with pinpoint accurate hammering drums and that crunchy low-end that fans of bands such as POISON, QUEENSRYCHE, and HEIST will be sure to eat up like the delicious bar food that it is.

The album’s opening track, “Lovin’ The Devil”, showcases newcomer to the band (and all at once obviously phenomenal guitarist) Ric Haas’ ability to make the electric guitar dance right away, and definitely will pull the strings of any lover’s heart from the get go. The stand-alone solo dissolves quickly into an instantly catchy and accurate drumbeat, and the rhythm section rides into position flawlessly without wasting any of the listener’s time. Lyrically, it’s what you’d expect from a band who is recognizably influenced by the late 80’s/early 90’s Glam Rock scene that once dominated the Heavy Metal mainstream for more than a decade. Singer Jaron Gulino has a unique approach to the genre, however, and his singing style, while more prevalent in earlier Thrash/Speed acts such as NUCLEAR ASSAULT or INTRUDER, is a welcome and somewhat captivating element to the genre. In short, it’s always nice to hear something new that actually adds another dimension to a sound that, while so revered at its core, has basically stayed true to its roots to the point of excess throughout the years.

“Walk The Walk” is the record’s next venture, and could be considered an anthem. This song has everything a Hard Rock fan could love. The guitar work is absolutely immaculate, and the lyrics are a challenge to anyone who would dare say that they’re down with the Metal scene, then proceed to go home and pray for all their “friends” so that they won’t burn in Hell for eternity. The vocals are yelled in such a way that you can hear the passion in the written words; a quality all too absent in much of the music in this specific genre. Unrelenting, the song just pounds ceaselessly all the way through, filling its listener with inner strength, and harkening back to the days when we were youthful and carefree.

The album’s two closing tracks, “Everything” and “This Way”, are the perfect back-to-back companions to close this four-song Hard Rock recording in style. Without giving away too much, the bluesy (albeit short) guitar solo towards the end of the final track, “This Way”, proves that ON TOP is capable of backing off from the aggression for a while, giving the listener a brief moment of breathing time before quickly crashing back into the pulse-pounding beats that accompany the song’s chorus, which, in short, compares sexual need to a heroin addiction. While it isn’t the first time in history that a song was written containing such subject matter and metaphorical comparison, it definitely ranks amongst the more catchy and well-produced specimens to date.

Overall, “Top Dollar” by ON TOP proves itself to be a quite enjoyable listen. The riffs are executed with precision, the drums will keep your toes tapping and your heads banging, and the vocals are powerful and commanding in a way that most are not in this particular vein of straight ahead Hard Rock. The album proves itself as a great way to greet a new day, and an even greater way to celebrate the late night hours.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Memorability: 8
Production: 10

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Lovin’ The Devil
2. Walk The Walk
3. Everything
4. This Way
Lineup:
Jaron Gulino - Vocals, Bass
Ric Haas - Guitars
Danny Piselli - Drums
Record Label: Horror Pain Gore Death Productions
     


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