new music: ‘the reggae grunge ep’ by rock/reggae fusion act liontribe #soundcheck

October 6, 2014
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Unless you missed Liontribe’s debut Love & Rock & Roll (and really, what’s up with that?), you already know the band is one of the best rock / reggae fusion bands out there. Where most bands that tread that line tend to alternate between reggae and hard rock, Liontribe play their roots music with just enough drive, and their rock with just enough groove, that it never feels like 2 different bands shoehorned into one record. The best distillation of their unique sound is on their latest The Reggae Grunge EP.

Words by Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor

Repackaging some of the best cuts from Love & Rock & Roll, the band embraces the “grunge” moniker that so many bands before them have run screaming from. While even 20 years later, we’re all still divided on what “grunge” even means, Liontribe seize on the loud/quiet/loud dynamics that unite the various bands that have been marched out under the grunge flag over the years. For Liontribe, the “quiet” part is where their reggae influences play straightest. But even at their most pure reggae, as on opener “Cellar Door,” they play their roots hard and with some darkness. So when the track bursts into a Bloc Party esque chorus before singer Rodney Victor Williams busts out in a blood curdling scream, it all feels like it couldn’t work any other way.

Even within their self declared limitations, the band shows a lot of range, particularly on standout track “Opium,” which explodes into a garage blues stomp. Naming your album after the genres of music you play can be an dangerous exercise in self-imposed limitations…sometimes it showcases your influences as you turn them into something new. Sometimes it plays like empty genre experimentation. Fortunately, Liontribe is the kind of the band that doesn’t bow to genres. On the closing track “Revolution,” treat sounds and styles as just more elements of their palette for a track that just kicks. Williams and guitarist Ewan MacFarlan bust out some of the most driven guitar work on the EP, while the band shifts and spins. Call it whatever you want, this is just damn good music.