Whatever happened to good, old-fashioned American hard rock? You know the kind – crunching guitars, strong vocals, a deft melodic touch that never threatens to spiral into goo (thanks in large part to smoldering tube amps), a rhythm section tight enough to bounce numerous quarters off? Check the sales charts or MTV and you’ll notice that what tries to pass as hard rock these days is heavy on angst and energy, but weak on substance, chops, and the ability to flat-out move your butt in any sort of rhythmic sense. And sheesh, can anyone play a cool guitar solo anymore?
That said, please welcome Fifty Seven Stitch, an ultra-promising entry on the present day hard rock scene. A few listens to this Minneapolis quartet’s self-released debut CD, Nerveblock, and you just might believe we finally have a savior for the genre.
Nerveblock is chock full of tunes equally hook-filled and go-for-the-throat. The band seems to have all the right influences from the ’70s and ’80s, as well as the musicianship to match. Sound-wise, think present-day Aerosmith if it had any balls left and ditched the wimpy pop ballads, or Alice in Chains with more boogie power, a brighter attitude, and no drug problem. Heck, Def Leppard just might pay large sums of money to sound anything like this today.
This is hard rock done extremely right. Nerveblock maintains a perfect mix of beauty and the beast. The guitar sound is amazingly phat and crunchy, and Brett Petrusek’s vocals are passionate and aggressive, but he never resorts to indulgent histrionics (MTV bands take note: constant atonal screaming is very annoying).
If you find yourself wondering whether bands on the current scene have ever heard Rocks or Appetite for Destruction, Fifty Seven Stitch’s Nerveblock is just what your doctor needs to order. Go forth and crank.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Jan. ’04 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.