posted on 8/2008 By:
The Roller are another scion of Austin, TX’s forever-expanding music scene; I’d swear that the Lone Star State’s entire cadre of alterna-culture has been condensed into that single city. Though these dudes have only this debut and a single demo under their belts, they’ve toured or played with a laundry list of influential doom/sludge acts: Black Cobra, Pelican, Kylesa, Middian, and even semi-mainstream The Sword amongst others. With company like that, there’s no question that The Roller are a crushing live act. Unfortunately, it doesn’t translate particularly well in the studio on this release. While The Roller is a competent slab of heaviness, it bears some amateurish flaws and reeks of retread.
Fortunately, these guys refrain from ripping off Eyehategod and their ilk’s increasingly popular ‘Southern’ dimension, and instead combine the more atonal murk of Grief with the periodically uptempo ballistics of a Cavity or Charger. That said, their choice of influences is The Roller’s only real deviation from prototypical sludge/doom; everything else about the band, from their endless barrage of power chord drubbings to Mike Morowitz’s predictably anguished scream, reeks of convention. Of course, metal doesn’t often sell itself via creativity, but The Roller’s execution isn’t strong enough to compensate for their pedestrian songwriting. There’s nary a hooky riff to be found on this album—it took me seven or eight listens before I began remembering the features of each song, and there are only five. Nor can The Roller overwhelm you with pure volume and density, thanks to an underpowered production that’s muddy in the “sounds amateurish” way rather than the “sounds super thick” way. This album doesn't suck, but it certainly fails to entertain.
The Roller is available both as a standalone album and packaged with a 62-page book by fellow Monofonus signee and budding novelist Rebecca Bengal, but I can comment only on the album, and my comment is this: been there, done that. The Roller might be the best live band in the entire fucking world, but that doesn’t save this comparatively brief 38-minute effort from boring me well before its completion. Dudes, you have to either wow the audience with how creative you are or how well you do some established style, and this doesn’t qualify in either department. Next, please.
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