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Sour Times – The 11th Hour

Sour Times
The 11th Hour
by Tommy Mulhern at 30 June 2021, 1:39 PM

Sometimes the things you think should work for you do the opposite. Like, take politics for instance. The people elect them and they pay their wage,s but the standard and dedication of politicians worldwide has never been lower. In Ireland we even have a government who weren’t the voters first choice and who are unashamedly grabbing as much as they can and as many favours for their career after politics as possible, but we still can’t seem to get rid of them. Then take your health. We get up every morning go do our jobs and don’t question all the amazing parts of us that are needed to function properly, that is until one component goes wrong. But it’s in the face of such setbacks in the examples I used that our true character comes out. In both instances, you can fight back at what most others might perceive as an impossible task. One half of the duo Sour Times has been let down twice, by his body and the body politic and he’s fighting back against them both.

Hailing from Greenfields, Massachussetts, Sour Times are made up of the multi-instrumentalist Ben Reigle and the vocalist and lyricist Joe Izayea.  Unfortunately, in 2018, Reigle suffered a series of near fatal strokes that left him with serious side effects. Now, most people would be happy with just getting back their standard motor skills after such a fright, but not this man. He spent all his spare time relearning his musical skills as well. And once he had achieved that he turned his attention to putting music to what Izayea had to say about the state of society. And so, against unbelievable odds, “The 11th Hour" was born.

From the picture of the Capitol Building on the album cover to the spoken word and piano opening on the first song, the feeling of hardcore angst and the subject in its crosshairs are very evident. The track “Rage Motivator” is a great album starter, with chunky riffs with angry vocals. There’s a real vibe of BURNT BY THE SUN here, and also its members Olender, Adubato and Witte’s side project RIVER BLACK. As the album progresses there is strong hints of HATEBREED here as well which adds another dimension to their sound. The next two songs “Duality" and “Dismay" continue in the same way, heavy as hell with smart changes and pitch perfect lead guitar flourishes, (the latter beginning with the most obvious nod to GOJIRA I have ever heard and there are a few less blatant ones scattered throughout). Then follows “Obey", which is a toss-up for my favourite of the album with “Death and Taxes", both hard-hitting tunes. I also enjoyed the light and dark of the title track too but for me the introspection on this song would have been enough for the whole record. I found “Lily White" and “Burn" a little jarring and when I heard “Interlude" for the first time I thought it was a pop-up ad on Spotify free. I also couldn’t quite understand the need for the clean vocals, sure they were really good, but just seemed out of place. These were all things that it would be easy to get over though, and of course only a matter of taste.

I’m sure if Ben Reigle ever reads my few criticisms on here it will be nothing to this man. He strikes me as a person of extreme perseverance and passion and someone who has no time for self pity. Instead of just getting himself right, he got himself back to where he could compose music to a message that will resonate with a lot of people and this shows compassion and forthrightness. I think it goes without saying that if the people in power were half the person he is then the situation the world finds itself in wouldn’t be anywhere near as dire. These may be sour times indeed but nothing is insurmountable with the right attitude.


3 Star Rating

1. Rage Motivator
2. Duality
3. Dismay
4. Obey
5. Interlude
6. Lily White
7. The 11th Hour
8. Death and Taxes
9. Burn
Ben Reigle – All Instruments
Joe Izayea – Vocals & Lyrics
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 11 June 2023

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