BY MOLLY LEHMAN
The first album the Gingerdead Men have recorded as a five-piece, “The Forest and the Trees” was released at the end of 2011 out of Cleveland’s Bad Back Studio. This sludgy-sounding record demands — much like the band itself — to be heard, and to be heard loudly. (“Massive amplification is ALWAYS the answer,” the group brags.) Brawny bass from Jason Luchka and the mature vocals of Shaun Yanovich cut through the noise, while the guitars that brought the band together 12 years ago in a Cuyahoga Falls basement hold up their end, played by Keith Luchka and Kyle Childers. Eleven songs round out this labor of love, which took more than six months to put together.
Though it can’t be ignored, the adrenaline-pumping numbers are great as a road-trip soundtrack: thrumming, insistent and, well, driving. Expect to use your steering wheel as a drumset during the percussive anthem “The Great Northwest Tragedy” — drummer Jason Craig is in his glory here — and the vocals’ intensity breaks out into a scream or two, too. In a few places the sludge is punctuated by the Luchkas and Childers joining Yanovich in singing, almost Weezer-like in their unison. One listen and you’ll know why the Gingerdead Men can brag that they’ve never had a show that hasn’t resulted in a drunken mosh pit.
Things get especially heady and heavy with the final tune, a metal-influenced stoner-rock number titled “Vampire Lincoln.” Again much like the band itself, the gritty, pounding sound is juxtaposed with a snarky sense of humor, with lyrics espousing the majesty of an undead dead president. Vampire Lincoln is “shaping our fate with his mighty fangs” — and the Gingerdead Men, for their part, are busily shaping their own with a mighty set of pipes and axes.
You can pick the album up for $5 on their website, thegingerdeadmen.bandcamp.com.