Crobot are a four-piece band from Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Their fourth album, Feel This, is due for release imminently, and how come I haven’t heard about them until now? That needs to change.
Crobot – Feel This (Mascot Records / Mascot Label Group)
Release Date: 3 June 2022
Words: Mark Rotherham
Just one look at their album cover, a hand holding an ice cream inside a steel-knuckle cone, and you know that these boys mean business.
The album kicks off with Electrified, a super-high octane opening track. Brandon Yeagley’s vocals slither over the slickly produced guitar and drums with an energy and pace that goes right through you. Much like the band confirm on their website, they’re a live act, and this song is just aching to be played onstage, inside a crammed concert hall chock full of ecstatic moshers. Right from the start, there’s something foot-tappingly addictive going on here, and we’re just on the first track.
Next up is Dizzy, which starts with a weird synth intro before a dark, doomy riff that’s heavier than anything you’ve heard all year. Brandon’s voice comes down a notch as he roars his way through this song. It’s hard, it’s brutal, it reaches down into your visceral cavity and rips out your insides. “We keep on spinning till we don’t feel dizzy.’
It’s a strange take on the term, but it works, and for those of us of a certain age, if you ever wondered what Skin might sound like if they were here now, and American, then look no further.
Those outside the genre will never know just how varied and diverse ‘our’ music can be, and so it is here with Set You Free, which has a slow, mellow start. But that’s okay because there’s plenty of dirty guitar to keep you happy, and after thirty seconds, the rest of the band joins in, and you know that this is a slow, slow rocker, but definitely no ballad. If you’re a Crobot fan, and I consider myself a recent convert, you’ll be mightily relieved.
Brandon’s vocals soar over this song, owning it with a complete power, backed up by mega-tight riffing that’s sewn together by atomic drumming. It’s a yearning, aching song that craves togetherness. It’s a totally Metal love song.
Normal speed is resumed with Better Times. It starts with a chest-beating drum line and super-cool fuzz guitar, and I’m here to tell you that if this song doesn’t get you stamping your feet and jumping in the air, then nothing in this solar system will.
It’s a song of hope that’s wrapped in grating, caustic, rocking music that’ll straighten your spine better than a chiropractor. It sounds like a natural evilution (deliberate mis-spell) of the free-wheeling love stuff from the ’70s, with a real edge from the happening twenty twenties. “Waiting for better times,” is the hook line for this song, and that’s something we can all relate to.
Then there’s a real curveball with Golden, which kicks off with a very mellow, stoner sound. The song’s rich and vibrant, showing off the band’s versatility. It’s a mix of pot-head and grunge with a bit of late Beatles weirdness thrown in. It sounds like a wild combination, but it works. It really works. It’s as different as can be to the other songs so far, but what a celebration of quality.
Without Wings stays in the same territory as Set You Free, with a slow acoustic intro and a mellow, mellow feel. Well, to start with, at least, but it doesn’t take long for the monster riffs and drumming to kick in, and Brandon screams out “Wiiiiings” with an intensity that would make Seb Bach weep. The guitar solo is deceptively simple and addictive. This is no-frills, powerful Metal at its very, very best, and I’m in heaven. I didn’t think anyone had put stuff like this out since the twentieth century.
Halfway through the album, and Livin’ On The Streets jumps straight in with a chunky, stop-start riff and louder than hell vocals. By this stage of the album, I’ve got Crobot’s style. It’s loud, it’s brash, and it absolutely doesn’t take itself too seriously. But then again, Crobot doesn’t need to, because their music is so seriously good, and that’s really all you need.
Take this song. It’s one hundred per cent catchy without any compromise to commerciality. Anyone who listens to this track will be annoying the hell out of everyone in the office the next day, telling the whole world that they’re livin’ on the streets.
Crobot are likened to Wolfmother, Queens Of The Stone Age, Rage Against the Machine and Soundgarden. Fair enough, but when I listen to Into The Fire, I don’t know if it’s the vocals, the shout out backing vocals, or the riffing style, but they remind me a lot of Skid Row, which is definitely no bad thing. There’s a real tightness about this band. Whereas you’d expect the bass and drums to keep everything sewn in tight, with Crobot, the guitar does that as well, and it’s an absolute pleasure to hear.
And when you hear Dance With The Dead, you’ll surely agree that Crobot are the undisputed new masters of the catchy riff, delivered with sheer brilliance. The lyrics on this one are definitely tongue in cheek, more Alice Cooper than Iron Maiden. If the previous song annoyed your colleagues, this one would get you sacked for singing it out loud in the office.
It’s simply impossible to sit still when you’re listening to Crobot. Sweet merciful heavens, what they like live? “Let’s go dance with the dead, oh yeah, they know how to kill it.” Absolutely inspired, Lordi would sell their souls for a song like this.
Holy Ghost sticks with the dark theme, although voice synth vocals and driving guitar riff makes the song very different to the one before it. This song has got a real edge, and despite the much darker sound, the driving guitar and drumming is an absolute pleasure to hear, guaranteed to turn anyone into a raging Metalhead. Having a bad day at work? Put on some Crobot and turn up the volume. You’ll be smiling in seconds.
Think you can predict the next song? Guess again, dude. Never Break Me kicks off with a Sharona-type riff before going off into its very own territory. This is a song that’s chock-full of defiance and that won’t shock any of you, given the title. But that’s the paradox of Crobot, just when you think they’re stating the obvious, yeah, they are, but they’re doing it in their very own way. Within the world of Metal, we’ve all heard songs about being the individual against the world, and this is Crobot’s take on that particular topic.
Feel This closes with Staring Straight Into The Sun. It’s a mellow, twenty-first-century hippy type song, with a sprinkling of gunge scattered over the top. That might sound like a weird combination, but like the rest of this album, it works. But it doesn’t just work, it works really, really well.
It’s a swarming, flowing, irresistible ending to what, for me, is the best album so far this year.
Brandon Yeagley – lead vocals, harmonica
Chris Bishop – guitars, backing vocals
Dan Ryan – drums
Tim Peugh – bass
3 Set You Free
4 Better Times
6 Without Wings
7 Livin’ On The Streets
8 Into The Fire
9 Dance With The Dead
10 Holy Ghost
11 Never Break Me
12 Staring Straight Into The Sun