Album Review: White Reaper, ‘White Reaper Does It Again’
Just when you thought that every possible variation of fast-short-punky rock music had been tried already, along comes a band like White Reaper. Just to put the Louisville, Ky., quartet's preference for economy into perspective, last year's debut self-titled EP contained six songs clocking-in at 15 minutes. No surprise, then, that the band's full-length debut doesn't exactly add much fat to its established method. Nevertheless, as this long-player demonstrates in spades, there's much more to White Reaper than short-lived uptempo bursts of energy.
For starters, singer/guitarist Tony Esposito has certainly taken a page out of the Ramones' book in terms of just how much melodic value can be crammed into compact song structures. And Esposito finds the sweet spot between a permanent-snarl delivery and sugary vocal hooks that recall golden-era 1950s rock and roll. Moreover, as much as searing guitars define White Reaper's sound, the band avoids the trap of letting its sound be defined strictly by guitars. Keyboardist Ryan Hater provides some of the freshest sounding keyboard lines to appear in a punk context in a long time.
As much as White Reaper like to get to the point, the songs on this album all feel like they take just the right amount of time to develop and breathe. Likewise, producer Kevin Ratterman (Young Widows, Coliseum) utilizes reverb on several -- but not all -- of the instruments. Ratterman and the band create a sonic space where guitars sound up-close while the vocals, drums, and bass all sound as if you're listening in a cavernous dance hall. The combination of immediacy and distance makes for a pleasantly woozy effect not unlike the often-conflicting acoustics of being at an actual live show.
No doubt White Reaper meant to be tongue-in-cheek by naming their first album White Reaper Does It Again, but given how many fresh twists they put on punk formula with these new songs, the title ends up fitting after all.