When a band takes a step back and re-evaluates their core strengths between releases, it can be a beautiful thing. Electric Wheels of Confusion’s 2014 release Rockface was a solid release, but it was a bit of a mess. The attempt at combining a staggering amount of influences, themes, and styles in four fairly-short songs was something of a misstep. Fortunately that changed on Curmudgeon, the band’s first full length release, they focus on making each song a tightknit standalone powerhouse rather than trying to speedily showcase their rock and roll knowledge.
Their main influences are still fairly evident. The tune “Awful Things” from the latter half of the album would fit snugly into Alice in Chains’ discography with its melodic harmonies and the blues-style soloing provided by band leader Antti Väärälä. Opening numbers “Prime” and “Stud” are extremely reminiscent of Bleach-era Nirvana, and the naked production only adds to that effect. A Metallica-like knack for almost endless riffing is present throughout this release. Still, EWC have managed to craft a style that is distinctly theirs. Walking the line between sincere and sneer, they really shine on “Hijinx,” a mathtastic banger, and “Doomball,” a slow-burning creeper that explodes into a crushing breakdown outro full of angst and rage.
The average song length here is roughly two minutes, the longest song being the 9th track and album closer “The Killing.” This number is a step in a different, more melodic direction for ECW; it doubles as both a fitting end to this relatively short EP and as a chilling tease for what the band may be capable of doing in the future.
I recommend this release for any and all fans of the heavier side of early grunge and thrash metal. Electric Wheels of Confusion are getting exponentially better with each release, and if they stay true to their impressive schedule of at least one release per year, we may not have to wait too long to hear their next adventures in riffing.
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Kate Erickson