Review: Riddle of Steel

Riddle of Steel
“The Python”
(Ascetic Records)

Progressive indie rock?  Hard to nail this one down.  It slides effortlessly through some unclaimed realm of rock tinged with a vocalist that can do a younger sounding, smooth Mike Patton while jagged song structures somehow tie themselves together with a velvet string.  The start and stop of the drums bring to mind Haymarket Riot (a band most of you probably don’t know, but should, if you dig the Fugazi indie rock constructions).  What throws the listener off in the best of ways is how the band uses these punctuated, aggressive song structures, yet every other element is very rounded and non-abrasively mature in sound.  The vocals, guitars, bass and even the sporadic drumming, all have a smoother sound to them while they attack a neurotic melody until it slips in line.

“Fire is a Special Occasion” displays this most obviously with it’s frenetic opening drums while a liquid guitar line trickles above the whole thing.  And in come those suave vocals all closed eyes and swooning.  And when the singer gets tense in “Ass Kicker” it scratches the gloss just enough to realize the undercurrent isn’t so pretty.  But the guitars will usually paint it up with some high note prettiness and the vocals will lay it out butter smooth.   It does have the tendency to drag itself down and pull out a song like taffy and that’s when the Riddle of Steel slips on it’s own distractions becoming just another clever indie rock outfit.  But overall, the level of talent all around is obvious making even a casual listen a quickly rewarding experience.