Rock and roll, my dear friends, is far from dead. And I’m not referring to the onslaught of post-neo-prog-core bands that seem to be of abundance these days, I’m talking about straight up, good old fashioned kick you in the balls without remorse rock and roll. If anyone needs a reminder of this, a good place to start would be the debut effort from Swedish band Outtrigger, The Last of Us.
Formed in Helsingborg in 2009, Outtrigger consists of founding members Timmy Andersson (guitar) and Simon Peyron (vocals). Filling out the roster are Adam Axelsson (guitar), Joakim Agenmyr (bass), and John Lofgren (drums). The quintet came to fruition in 2010 with their initial EP Untestified Revolution. Earlier in 2014 was another EP release Echo, and now they stand to make their full LP debut, Though there are plenty of influences spread across the various songs, the core sound is simply pure, straightforward hard rock, and it’s done very, very well.
The album opens with a radio friendly, straight up rocker called Superman is Dead. With a sketchy, frantic opening lick, the track quickly finds a smooth groove that builds a certain enticement for the epic sounding chorus. It’s a catchy one, don’t say you weren’t warned. The star of this track is vocalist Peyron. While others will shine throughout the album, his powerful voice with just the right amount of edginess really kills it here. Anyone thinking the rest of the album will follow this vein will be sorely disappointed, the band jumps all over the spectrum from straight edged rockers to nut crushing metal. No Excuse follows the hard rock vein, with a smidgen of a poppy edge to the cutting guitar lines. They start to branch out on World of Fire, taking a page from Rage Against the Machine, they have a certain anger to this one, Peyron really letting loose with the vocal damage. The riffs break the bottom here, the digs hard and deep.
You Left as you Came is a brilliant track, the band digging for a soulful effect, and pulling it off in fantastic fashion. While not losing one ounce (gram for you non American folks) of the hard rock edge, they manage to put some serious heart into this one. Awaken Me is an acoustic track that is brilliantly pulled off. Colder opens with some Oriental elements, and quickly digs into hard mode. Sacrificing the pounding for a more frantic edge, this one keeps its pace flawlessly. One With the Pain is a beast, kicking all sorts of ass in all directions, all the while lingering in the hard rock arena. The staccato riffs are relentless, playing perfectly to the frantic drum work by Lofgren, who provides a solid and stable heartbeat to the overall album. Peyron also pulls some expertly executed growl vocals here, adding yet another dimension to a band who seems capable of spanning them all. The title track, The Last of Us, finishes in a more grounded fashion, a friendly and accessible rock tune with a slight pop edge to it.
The Last of Us is a solidly produced album, mixing is done well with no single element outshining any other. Very fitting for a band where no single influence shines either, they take whatever is at hand, whatever seems to be of need at the moment, and deliver a brilliant album that in some other world not dominated by corporate pop and the corporate dollar, would succeed greatly.