Sugar of Lead
Reviewed by Rob Acocella
Get the album on CDBaby.com!
Above the flood is an independent Alt Rock band out of upstate New York. We've been friends and fans of Mike Grosshandler since we first heard his work with The Velmas years ago, back when Paragon was actual print magazine. Imagine that, paper with words on it, that you hold in your hand... anyway, I digress...
When we heard that Mike had a new project going with a new bunch of guys, we were naturally excited to hear what it would sound like. What we got was so much more than we had anticipated. From the pounding intro of "Nothing New" to the rally-cry closing of "Get By" Sugar of Lead is a great collection of songs, even if it is a little short (Hey, it's a 5-song EP, what do you want?).
I hear lots of influences in Above The Flood's music, most notably a bit of Seether mixed with Alice In Chains. Not a bad mix, and there's even a little bit of a Type O Negative-like dirge here and there, which I can only rightfully assume is Mike's doing. Matt Shufelt deserves all the credit he can be given for his amazing voice. He's a tremendous vocalist with a great range for this brand of Rock music. He's gritty and smooth all at once, and really projects the attitude of the music. I'm assuming Matt is the chief lyric writer, as the singers typically are, and to that my only comment is: Dude, there's a lot of bitter relationship stuff on here. While that's great Rock song fodder, don't get stuck into a cliche niche of the genre, because you'll have a hard time working your way out of that spot if you ever want to touch on more serious material down the road. I'm all for free speech, but I would assume that lyrics like "I'm a man and I need to control you, then dispose of you" doesn't really win you many female fans, or at least any with healthy self respect. I mean no disrespect in saying this, of course, I just think that lyrics like that are better left to Poison and Motley Crue.
Back to the music: these songs are really catchy, so if you're prone to earbugs, you should know that going into this. I only have to listen to the album once all the way through and I'll have these songs stuck in my head at random times for weeks. No joke, I would wake up some mornings with the lyrics in my head even though I hadn't heard the songs for days. That's the sign of good song writing, and when it comes to hooks, these guys are full of them. I've gotta say that my personal favorites are the 2 most aggressive tunes on here: "Nothing New" and "Love To Hate You."
Overall, I've gotta say that the production value on this is so much better than most debut EPs we get sent, and when you add that in to the songwriting chops, the huge vocals, and all the other little details, this is one of the most solid first releases I've heard from a band in a long time, especially one that isn't signed to a major label with a huge production budget. You can tell these guys take their music seriously and it pays off big-time for them.
For more info on Above The Flood, check out their Facebook Page