Lullwater, Revival Released October 23rd, 2015
Lullwater may not be a household name yet, but their latest release, Revival, has what it takes to make hard rock music fans take notice and tell all their friends. Brimming with searing guitar, driving rhythm, and raw lyrics delivered through a vocal style that defies convention, Lullwater is living up to this album’s name, creating a sound that is very much needed in the realm of alternative rock music.
In March 2015, Maine Music News had the opportunity to interview the members of Lullwater before their show at Portland, Maine’s Asylum while they were on tour with Flyleaf. When we asked what to expect with their new music, they didn’t even hesitate: “loud, aggressive rock,” “much more fast-paced,” and “pretty much straight riff rock.” The Georgia boys have delivered, in spades.
I’d be lying if I said the idea of upping the intensity of the Lullwater sound didn’t make me a little uneasy – if it ain’t broke, leave it alone – but the guys have created something good here, keeping their distinct blend of Southern hard rock and grunge alternative but adding even more energy and speed. Revival is hard, heavy, interesting, listenable, and thought-provoking. And infectious.
We received an online link to Revival so I am working without liner notes or press material for this review, but I would like to thank John Strickland for sending the lyrics our way. Questions about production and studio work will have to wait, but it is clear after listening to the twelve new songs that the guys in Lullwater are enjoying their ride through the rock music industry, so much so that they are taking chances with the compositions, stating their opposition to the current national climate, lathering the songs with driving guitar, and doing it all their way. Best of all – it is working for them.
John Strickland, vocals and rhythm guitar, is willing to take his voice anywhere to build a song, from guttural freight train to husky and sweet. He keeps the emotion riveting and dynamic and often surprising. Brett Strickland’s lead guitar feels more pronounced in this studio mix. I continually find myself hanging on the guitar work as he sets the vibe of each song and produces powerful, striking, and confident riffs. Ray Beatty’s bass holds the music down to the ground, keeping it rich and full, while Joe Wilson’s drums are understated but cracking and forceful. Everything here feels tight and deliberate but the sound never lets go of being stunningly raw.
As the first track on Revival, “Evenline” immediately jumps the needle with Brett Strickland’s guitar, proving this collection will be harder than previous cuts. Brother, John, vocally keeps pace, as this song flies and weaves. “Holy Water” is even better, interesting and funky; you can’t sit still to this one. The lyrics start to sink in by this time, jagged and honest – “cut the rope I ain’t dying yet.” Revival’s lament and protest, tinged with just enough hope and perseverance to keep the fight alive, takes me back to the spirit of protest that only rock and roll can deliver.
“Let Me Out” features a riff that could have been plucked from a great 70s tune. With varying tempos and vocals, this song flexes with imagery that looks the fragility of modern life square in the face. With a strong, military feel to the drum work, “Forgotten Name” pounds through, delivers a hook, and is a stand out as John Strickland demonstrates his vocal range. Next up, “Revival” harkens back to old, edgy, hard rock.
“Broken Wings” brims with Brett Strickland’s Southern hard rock guitar, more Molly Hatchet than Skynyrd, nearly eight minutes long and worth every second. “Liars and Thieves” is frenetic, featuring a metal vibe and plenty of social commentary.
While there are certainly splashes of the unique Lullwater sound that originally drew me to this band throughout the first half of the release, more peaks through as the album progresses. “Burning Both Ends” is softer, relatively speaking, and gives the listener a chance to breathe before “American Glutton,” you can guess what that song is about, sporting a deceptively happy punk feel, carries the listener away. On “Vendetta Black,” a cover of Resident Hero, the band revitalizes the song into a delightful little anthem, complete with machine gun guitar.
Taking it back to Earth, “Alive” is a touching cut with powerful guitar, rhythm, and sentiment. Last, but not to be outdone, “Ruin the Rose” is epic, echoing and moody, a little Floydian, and a great way to wrap up the collection.
Lullwater has done it again with their latest release. Revival is a smart, thrill ride mix of imagery and impressive, gritty hard rock. All our best to the band and to their success as they take the new music out on the road. We’ll see you when you make it back to Maine.