Chemical City Rebels are an independent rock band who had the brilliant idea of melding some of the better elements of stoner rock with pop-punk. Yes, it sounds a little odd, but they did it. And they did it really well. A New Plague is a good debut album from a group of musicians that have been active in their local music arena for years.
The band slaps a cookie cutter up genre label on themselves: “Stoner Pop-Punk”, according to their Facebook page…and they live up to the name. Most of their songs are groovy chords supporting Ben Michon’s gruff, though mostly clean, vocals. It’s a winning combination. They throw in enough licks and bass riffs to keep you interested. Lyrically, the themes are also solid, and entertaining. Overall, they feel and sound like a pop-punk band that shed the alluring, though sophomoric, aspects of their genre and adopted a darker, more mature sound.
The stoner rock elements mesh surprisingly well with the pop-punk undertones. This is mostly heard in Michon’s vocal style. Mostly, his notes are high above the instruments, even though his voice has a rough edge. I found his voice very smooth and soothing, which adds an intriguing layer of texture to the music because it clashes with the chaotic nature of rock ‘n’ roll. Michon can offer throaty screams, in addition to calming notes. This hard edge comes in handy when the song demands he growls out a few lyrics. As someone who enjoys both stoner rock and metal, I really liked this choice. It feels natural, even though I never would have thought about splicing these two genres together.
Songs Worth Investigating
“Dissociate” and “DLTBGYD” are the singles from the record. Both should be listened to, as they are catchy and good. The first is a great blend of styles. It feels like a whirlwind as the acoustic guitar chimes away against Michon’s high notes and occasional screams. The latter feels like a Seether track, and arguably invokes this feeling by the name alone, my mind went right to FMLYHM. However, Michon channels Shaun Morgan’s voice as the guitars rip into a throaty riff.
…And to Conclude
Chemical City Rebels is a budding rock band. A New Plague is a solid debut that seamlessly blends different elements into a brilliant new sub-genre: Stoner Pop-Punk. There are always minor critiques and places where the band could improve, that is inevitable, especially after a first record. However, Chemical City Rebels are off to a good start. I’m looking forward to listening to what they produce in the future.