Attalla – Attalla (self released, 12 July 2014)
Hey folks! I’d like to share a quick little anecdote with you, then it’s time to talk about some more music. Deal?
Ok. So several months ago, this band called Attalla from Wisconsin wrote to me to let me know they’d released an album last year, and to see if I’d be interested in reviewing it. I then downloaded it and added it to my library of stuff to check out — but it just kind of sat there for a little while. I can’t exactly say what it was that kept me from listening to the album right away, but I feel like something about the band’s name brought up some sort of negative imagery on some subconscious level. (And frankly, that’s really a shame, because — at least from what I learned by watching Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure — the storied emperor seems to have been quite the bad-ass, and his name should certainly evoke similarly awe-inspiring thoughts.
In any case, I ultimately overcame whatever mental roadblock had been there (the word “attalla”, I would later discover, actually derives from the Cherokee word for “mountain”) and hit PLAY on the band’s self-titled LP. And I’m really glad that I did. I wasn’t just ‘pleasantly surprised’ at what I heard; rather, the album turned out to be pretty great. I guess the lesson to be learned here was, not only should you not judge a book by its cover, but you also shouldn’t judge a book by its title being vaguely similar to another book’s title. Particularly if you’ve already pre-judged that other book to be terrible based on ITS cover. Okay, moving on.
As I said, the album Attalla definitely ended up being a worthwhile listen: killer riffs abound, hovering somewhere in the space between heavy blues-rock and doom metal — which should appeal to fans of bands like Pentagram and Black Sabbath. Unless those people are only fans of Sabbath‘s obnoxiously nasally original singer, because you’ll find none of that here. At times the band lets the music speak for itself (for example, in the second track “Haze” nearly four out of five minutes pass by before a single word is uttered), but when there are vocals, they’re generally tastefully suited to the bluesy hard-rock style — while sometimes for emphasis they slip into a higher register and take on a Danzig-esque croaky quality, which is also not unwelcome (although, again, I won’t speak for the specific sect of music fans previously cited).
Rather than leaning too much on spacey effects and fuzz pedals as some of their contemporaries do, Attalla follow the classic hard rock / heavy metal formula of doubling guitars with bass on certain riffs to really drive home the heaviness factor. Don’t worry, there is still a sufficient amount of distortion and fuzz — the bass tone in particular is nice and warm, and overdriven without ending up muddy. Some of the best moments of this album are songs where the bass is allowed to shine through: for example, personal highlights include the previously mentioned “Haze” and the oh-so-appropriately-named closing track “Doom.”
Don’t make the same mistake I did and delay any further — go give this album a listen today (see the Bandcamp widget embedded below). Also, be sure to check out the following list of tour dates for your chance to see the band all across the eastern U.S. next month!
Attalla Summer Tour 2015
- July 10 Chicago, IL – Liar’s Club
- July 11 Fort Wayne, IN – Skeletunes Lounge
- July 12 Detroit, MI – Corktown Tavern
- July 13 Cleveland, OH – TBA
- July 14 Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups
- July 15 Pittsburgh, PA – The Smiling Moose
- July 16 Buffalo, NY – Mohawk Place
- July 17 Rochester, NY – Monty’s Krown
- July 18 Wallingford, CT – Knuckleheads
- July 19 Brooklyn, NY – TBA
- July 20 Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie
- July 21 Baltimore, MD – SideBar
- July 22 Richmond, VA – Emilios
- July 23 Wilmington, NC – Scrap Iron Bike Shop / Bar
- July 24 Louisville, KY – Magnolia Bar
- July 25 St Louis, MO – The Heavy Anchor
The album is available to stream or download at Bandcamp, but the vinyl LP is such a great deal (only a few dollars more than the digital version, if you buy direct from the band) and also comes with a free download, it seems silly not to just do that.
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