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Preppen Barium - Preppen Barium Award winner

Preppen Barium
Preppen Barium
by Rachel Montgomery at 16 March 2020, 10:54 PM

PREPPEN BARIUM was a band formed in speed, first joining in a world of “race cars, dirt bikes, and skateboards,” according to their bio. You can hear the influence in their fast, turbo-charged music from start to finish, creating an interesting mix of Post-Grunge, Hard Rock, Speed Metal, and Gothic. After some hit-and-miss starts, they’ve released their first album, available for streaming on multiple platforms.

The opening track begins with heavy, tuned-down guitars and a crisp, speeding riff. It has a turbo-Nu metal feel without the post-grunge sludge production, making it more like AVENGED SEVENFOLD or VELVET UNDERGROUND. I love the haunting riff when the tune change comes in. I adore the whining, screeching guitar solo that whistles its way in the song. The complexity in this opening track sets the band up to be a tight, complex band with progressive elements and an experimental flair that other turbo bands don’t bring.

The small details make this album. I love the nod to Tarantino’s grind-house film in the song with its namesake, “Deathproof”, with the narrative from the film in the beginning. The guitar solo is especially clear and keeps the theme of a speeding muscle-car death trap through the album. The vocals can verge on punk in the refrain, so if that’s not your thing, you may not like this song as much, but it’s well done. Likewise, in “Diary Of A Broken Doll”, the melody speeds the song along and the harmonies in the vocals pump it up. However, the vocals are smoother here, serving the song by not overpowering it with a nasally singing style. The speed-ups and slow-downs in the song also give it more of an interesting, experimental shift.

Honestly, when the vocals go punk rock, it’s well-done for what it is, but it can become grating. The song “Love Lies” is supposed to be a slower ballad, but when it increases speed at the refrain, the punk style vocals take over, it can overwhelm the song and make it less lovely. Similarly, I love the ambiance at the beginning of “Strife”. It’s a slow chant with a Gregorian dirge that pulls me in before the song becomes energized with a tempo change. Again, the punk vocals don’t work for me here. It reminds me too much of THE OFFSPRING. In itself, that’s not bad, but I don’t think the singing style fits the darker, heavier stylings of this band. There’s usually a levity or a tongue-in-cheek in punk rock that’s missing here in the instrumental tone, so I wish they would have stuck to a deeper, clearer, more operatic vocal style to match. The vocal stylings in “Black Swan” would be better for the more intense parts of the aforementioned songs. They fit the darker tones better.

The closing track, “Speed”, is a revved-up short number with as much octane as the band can throw in. It leaves the album on a fast note. I do wonder where the clear vocals were this entire album, because here, they are smooth. These stylings would have done better on the darker, heavier songs, whereas here, they could have taken their punk rock stylings and it would have been a blast of a song. The squealing guitar solo is once again a nice touch.

Overall, if you like turbo boosts in your Melodic Metal, you’ve come to the right band. Most of their musicianship is everything right with Post-Grunge bands from the late 90s on, without the butt-rock vocals or muddy instrumentals. If you want something fast-paced with crispy production and tight music, check this album out.

Songwriting: 9
Production: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Prep N Bury Em
2. Deathproof
3. Love Lies
4. Strife
5. Diary Of A Broken Doll
6. Black Swan
7. Heart Failure… Resuscitation
8. Speed
Lineup:
Matt Tolle – Vocals, Guitars
Kyle Harvey – Vocals, Guitars
Andrew Baker – Vocals, Bass
David Dalton Jr. – Drums
Record Label: Independent
     


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