Review: “Never Young” by Loser

Hailing from Detroit, Michigan and signed to Emmure frontman Frankie Palemeri’s Red Zone Records are Loser, a band that claim to fuser Nu-Metal and Grunge in a new style called Psychedelia. Stating that their influences are Slipknot, Deftones, KoRn and Nirvana, the 5 piece of Sammy Morales (drums), Erik Into (bass), John Hillman (guitar), Brandon Hamilton (guitar) and Alex Stankewitz (vocals) are actually back for round #2 having dropped a 10 track effort entitled “I’m Not The Same” in 2017.

Looping a sample before some solid bass drops and an off kilter version of the riff from “Row Boat” by Coal Chamber,  “Ronin ’94” fuses an aching clean sung melodic chorus with a surprisingly vicious higher pitched screamed verse that may find Alpha Wolf fans doing a double take. The melodic side has a trippy Deftones vibe that includes a spoken word so the whole thing is a mishmash of styles but holds together really well. Channeling some inner Jonathan Davis, Alex Stankewitz delivers the kind slow aching angst ridden vocal that he’s know of throughout “Cotton Mouth” which sounds like an end of album tune that doesn’t have the polish of the opener with the band going style over substance. The bizarrely titled single “Pump Fake” sees a return to some the higher pitched uncleans after a rap that sounds like it belongs in 1999. There is the distinct feeling that Loser have channelled their energies into creating this sound on purpose rather that it being entirely organic. The result is that it sounds a little bit forced in places. The guitar work is crisp with chunky riffs and some solid click-y bass but it’s all a little bit slow and drawn out.

An obvious Nu-Metal rap track “XXX” goes deep with the introspective lyrics about what happens if… The less prominent guitar work creates a background of darkness against the programmed drums and buried electronics before it all kicks in for a burst of that higher energy in the final 40 seconds or so. The only real question is whether you have the patience to let it get there. Moving into Art Rock territory, “When I Fall Down” is a big sing-a-long tune that shows some influence of The Cure and could well find its way to Planet Rock Radio on a Sunday afternoon. A couple of unclean lines in the closing are highly unnecessary and there is a sense that this album has taken an experimental twist. After an interesting opening verse “Dance On My Grave” bursts into a trip-hop segment that sounds like it belongs in another song. The Art Metal vibe returns with Alex Stankewitz and co. suddenly leaping it some melodic Deathcore grooves out of nowhere before dropping it off again. Not only is the triple style shift within the same track awkward but it takes 3 or 4 listens to get used to before you can enjoy the tune itself.

Eerie off kilter guitars bring in “Hole In My Head” and the desire for Loser to have a straight up tune in a single style is overwhelming at this point. Fortunately while the experimentation isn’t over with this one, the rap-metal verse is a far better fit on this darker atmospheric cut than on the previous one. A higher energy and decent groove mean that this one ends up being a stand out cut, even if it’s a chorus too phat in its playing time. Unbelievably for so late in the album, “Roam” is a stand out cut from the very start, offering some Nu-Metal dirgy dirty riffs and a fine energy balance between the dark atmospheric and the trio of vocal stylings on show. Again Alex Stankewitz showcases some more of his range, digging deep and producing some quality uncleans. Sounding like a warped vinyl “Standing Still” comes in with some detuned guitars and some rap-screams before another aching clean vocal section. There is a distinct KoRn vibe to the whole thing with some decent heavier parts counter balancing some of the whiner elements. Yes, there is another rap and a Deathcore bridge that sounds a bit out of place but it works on this tune when it shouldn’t. Closing on an album title track is always a strange thing. Choosing to name the album after a song is a statement that says “this is a stand out tune” or “this is the direction we want to go in” or “this is the sound of the album”. In “Never Young”, Loser bring a tune that says “thank you and good night” with angst ridden lyrics and buried electronics that adds little. A sorry end to a melting pot of ideas that work on paper but don’t work in practice. There is a good EP of 4 tunes in this 10 track album but sadly the rest sounds a bit lost. Loser need to make up their minds about what they want to do and fast [5/10]

Track listing

  1. “Ronin ’94”
  2. “Cotton Mouth”
  3. “Pump Fake”
  4. “XXX”
  5. “When I Fall Down”
  6. “Dance On My Grave”
  7. “Hole In My Head”
  8. “Roam”
  9. “Standing Still”
  10. “Never Young”

“Never Young” by Loser is out now and available via Red Zone Records. You can find it here.

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