68′ Rock n’ Roll with a Kick in the Pants

Rawr! Snarl! Crash! These are the words that come to mind when listening to the band 68’. The group is comprised of Josh Scogin on vocals and guitar, and Michael McClellan on drums.  Their sound is self-described as rock n’ roll with a kick in the pants, but it’s not exactly easy to put this bluesy rock duo in a box. They definitely peddle a heavy rock sound, and I really wouldn’t expect anything less given Scogin’s past screamo endeavors with Norma Jean, and as The Chariot’s metalcore front man.

Two Parts Viper is the group’s sophomore album, released earlier this year, and it’s intense to say the least. The entire album embodies the essence of rock n’ roll and it’s just as intense as their first album. Upon the departure of Matt Goldman on guitar, Scogin has added McClellan on drums, which has better enabled the two-man group to take their sound to the next level. Each song incorporates complex instrumental interludes alternating catchy riffs with vocals and lyrics that give you that fast-paced rock n’ roll vibe.

Tracks worth noting include “Life is Old, New Borrowed, and Blue” which metaphorically punches you in the face with the abrasive riffs battling it out against badgering one liners. The turbulent nature of the song conjures up a restlessness that makes it almost too much fun to sing along to. “Death is A Lottery” is another song on Two Parts Viper that successfully hammers out an intense melody and artistic instrumental construction which compliments the lyrical composition to produce an intense display of chaotic harmony. Memorable lines such as “Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong, death is quick, but it can last so long” are passionately poured out in an abrasive ballad.

The track “Apologies” is another favorite on the album, and it’s one that showcases the artistry of both members. This song creatively paints a rock n’ roll picture with steady drum lines and Scogin’s bluesy angle of delivering crashing lyrics only to be broken up by an interlude of spoken word which embodies the poetry in such a way that’s sure to appeal to most rock n’ roll rebel personas.

Every song on the album hits like a hurricane, and, the band is even better live. I had been sleeping on the new album for the last six months until finally discovering the awesomeness that is Two Parts Viper. However, once I became keen to its rock n’ roll mastery, I’ve been listening on repeat enough to redeem myself from my negligent misstep. And recently I was rewarded for my intense fandom as I realized that the band would be opening up for The Bronx playing here in Salt Lake City, which I had already scored tickets to.  

The performance was incredible and it was not merely two musicians giving you their best songs to promote their latest album, it walked the line of performance art. Scogin and McClellen performed in a symbiotic trance that had the energy of a killer punk show and the depth of a complex piece of art. They masterfully abused their instruments, while performing in sync to produce the most chaotic display of musical art I’ve ever seen. The performance was so intense and awe-inspiring, I hardly enjoyed the main act that played after them, and as I left the show, I knew that I had just witnessed something special, something rare, an unbelievable display of talent. And with that, I can honestly say, Two Parts Viper rocks, but if you get the chance, don’t miss them live.

A Night of Metal: The Exodus Kick-off Tour

Despite what you may have heard, the metal genre of music is no stranger to Salt Lake.  There’s an overflowing line up of local thrash metal bands with a strict metalhead following, including some SLC’s favorites: Visigoth, Deathblow, and Necrowolf along with several others who frequent the regular venues downtown on what seems to be a monthly, if not a weekly basis. There’s also a little black metal thrown into the mix with the band Darklord, and some progressive metal from Deathrone the Sovereign. Then there’s Silence of Mortuary headbanging their way from a faraway land called Moab. These are just to name a few of the many metal bands playing Utah’s local metal scene.

Even if you wouldn’t necessarily classify yourself as a metal fan, I still recommend you catch a show or two if you’re in the mood for a little hardcore headbanging fun. However, most of these bands are still considered relatively ‘new metal’ The metal genre has been going strong for the last 40-something years and this is worth noting because what is considered old metal has helped shape each facet of the genre today.

Speaking of metal that’s been around forever, I was unexpectedly put on the guest list for the first show of the Exodus tour. The show took place at Music Metro Hall and I was excited to see a band whose career spans over the last 30 years.

The night was a fun one with Deathblow and Villain getting the metal heads hyped before the main act took the stage. As the show began, I noticed that there was a shift in the proximity of the audience from the stage. Some people were taking several steps back almost retreating as far back as the bar located on the other side of the venue. Trusting my intuition, I followed suit and I was glad that I did. Frequenting the amount of punk rock shows that I do, I am no stranger to the ways of the mosh pit, but for some reason, I didn’t really understand what that meant when one is attending an actual headbanger show. And with that, Exodus stepped out on stage and in an instant, they were bringing all the headbanging energy beginning the set with fast guitar riffs strummed in sync with flailing waist-length hair as the crowd moshed with the same intensity.  

As each song finished, the singer Steve Souza riled up the audience by appealing to their metal obsession and yelling out “You’re all just a bunch of rowdy metalheads, aren’t you?” Which of course produced a heightened reaction with said metalheads bumping shoulders and yelling their allegiance back to the metal gods. The band went on to play numerous songs from what seemed like a sampling from every album put out during their 30-year discography. I even witnessed Souza asking the audience which album they had not gotten to yet. And by the end of the show, I realized this was a fan based band- one that plays solely for its fans. One that tours for decades off the same songs that propelled their success in the first place. They understand who makes a rough metal head tour life worth every show played, and of course- it’s the fans.