With Nirvana’s release of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in 1991, grunge music burst out of the shadows and demolished the hair metal juggernaut that had cheapened popular rock music for the last decade. However, by the time of Kurt Cobain’s death in April of 1994, the major record labels had figured out a way to commercialize and sanitize grunge music just like they did with previous musical styles. Most people think that grunge died a slow, painful death from 1994 to around 2000, but that’s not true at all. Real grunge music has simply returned to the shadows where it can be made with the passion and creativity that it deserves – away from the control of record label executives who have no idea what the music is about. It is in these shadows that you can find amazing bands like Ramington Flashride.
Based in Dusseldorf, Germany, Ramington Flashride has definitely been influenced by the original grunge movement, but doesn’t try to mimic the top bands of the time. With their album “Back to Seattle” they have crafted superb, hard rocking album with solid songs that stand on their own and also work well together within the context of the album. The band is out of the gate rocking right from the opening instrumental “Open Your Door.” The theme of rocking, grungy songs in the tradition of a heavier Nirvana continue with Track 2 “Your Business” and Track 3 “Why Why Why.” Both are very solid, enjoyable songs.
The awesomely heavy song “Sure We Can” sounds like guitar fuzz sludge seeping out of your speakers. This track seems to have more far in common with Black Sabbath than any bands jamming under the grunge banner. This is definitely one of my favorite tracks on the album!
“Hope You Die” is an upbeat punk rocker that brings to mind the frivolity of The Sex Pistols and some of the early Southern California punk bands.
The musical diversity continues with the “M.O.F.” in the form of a nod to the punk-influenced commercial rock of the early MTV generation like early albums from The Cult and Billy Idol.
We’re back to grunge with “Protection Overlord,” but a more post-Nirvana commercial kind of grunge. The song isn’t bad at all. It just reminds me more of The Toadies than Mudhoney.
“You Are My Fire” may be the most Nirvana sounding song on the album and even then, the band maintains a unique voice, plus the lead guitar section in the middle displays a level of hard rock / heavy metal tightness and technical proficiency that most grunge bands have rarely displayed.
The next two tracks are the low point of the album for me. The classic lyrical theme of being in love with a girl found in the song “Running Home” combined with its relatively straight forward music make this track feel like it doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the album. It’s not a terrible song, but even on a hard rock album, it would be nothing more than filler on the second half of an album. Here, it’s more distracting than filler and I think the album would have been better off without this one. Next up is “Passing Away.” The chorus is great musically, but the music in the verses is just kind of annoying.
After two weak songs in a row, I was pleasantly surprised by “Burn!” This creepy track successfully blends Woodstock-era psychedelic rock with equal parts Alice in Chains and Nirvana. I may have heard similar attempts before, but none have ever succeeded as well as this song! It may have stood out more if it weren’t placed after the two previous songs on the album. I think “Burn” is the hidden gem of “Back to Seattle.”
Closing out the album we have “Fascination Wins”- a slow, bluesy song reminiscent of Pearl Jam when they were invoking the spirit of Led Zeppelin. I don’t know that this song really fits with the vibe of the band, but either way it’s a very cool song. Using it as the closing track of the album feels like it gives the band the leeway to stretch out without ruining the vibe of the album as a whole.
In the end, I think “Back to Seattle” is a very good album with only a couple of duds. With this album, Ramington Flashride has definitely supported my statement that GRUNGE IS NOT DEAD! Check them out on Facebook here: http://facebook.com/flashride