Go Time! – VI
Go Time has kept themselves quite busy since their 2009 debut and they show no sign of relenting. Their sixth full length album, entitled VI, follows 2015’s Ratsel and features eighteen songs with focused running times driven ahead by Scott Niekelski’s guitar work. His band mates in the rhythm section, bassist Marko Marketti and drummer Steve Grzenia, have combustible interplay and keep the pulse of these songs beating loudly. They played a number of gigs in Chicago and the surrounding environs over the last seven years to promote their previous five studio albums and their ease and energy with each other is, even on a studio recording, readily apparent. Their torrid creative powers are evidenced on every song here but, naturally, some stand out much more than others.
“Human After All” starts VI off and is a good example of one of those aforementioned songs. Niekelski’s guitar riffs are usually distinguished by the bright hue, but he chops away at the string with such emphatic power that his sound has a light percussive quality that’s hard to ignore. Many listeners may not like his voice or it might take some getting used to, but others will think it works fine for these songs, particularly those like the album’s second track “Drop the Act”. The lyrics demand a little more bite in his vocals than the opener and Niekelski responds with a smirking, clawing voice. He has a great handle on how to sing Go Time’s songs and the idiosyncratic parts of his voice mark him as unique among his peers. “Close to Home” opens with a buzzsaw guitar rave up before it launches into one of the album’s strongest riffs. The vibe during the verses is pure rock and roll and Grzenia gives this music a real swing. “Broken” is carried off by acoustic guitar and rates as the album’s longest track. There’s certainly a sense here, however understated, that Go Time are swinging for the fences and showing great ambition by giving their listeners a much more nuanced tune than the earlier cuts.
Based on what’s come before, listeners will be excused if they expect “Misperceived” to be some sort of post-punk rock song. Go Time play this like a handful of tracks on VI – the instruments find a groove early on and ride it for everything they’re worth. It gives the song a definite swagger and makes for a nice change of pace. “Black Space” has one of the album’s best bass lines and breezy rock muscle that makes it difficult to not pay attention to. Frantic energy defines “No Way Out”, but the urgency the band is trying to depict never pushes them off the rails. Instead, the tempo demands of the song seem to focus the band’s attention on maintaining the straight possible line of attack and it transforms this song into the equal of a flurry of punches. A crackling and rousing guitar riff sets off the late track “Lost Or Found” and Niekelski answers its energy with a gritty and energetic vocal. They settle on a rather uncompromising finish for the album. “Straight to Snuff” has pummeling electricity that doesn’t let its boot off the listener’s neck. There are faster songs on this album, but few are harder. Niekelski’s singing reflects this well with one of his most intense performances. Go Time’s sixth album continues to expand their growing body of first class rock music with equally sharp songwriting.
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