Bad Penny’s Drops “Push Comes to Shove”
Intricacy in its purest form greets us at the start of Bad Penny’s new single “Push Comes to Shove,” and as much as the fretwork we’re hearing in this intro feels like the centerpiece of the song from the get-go, it is only the tipping point for what will become a behemoth of a hard rocker. “Push Comes to Shove” brings none other than Judas Priest’s Rob Halford into the mix beside Militia Vox and Bad Penny, and while the guests are larger than life characters indeed, it’s the band that drives this home as an identity track.
The guitar parts are always bound to be the most cosmetically exciting element of any song like this, but I think they’re competitive with the bottom-end in “Push Comes to Shove” to the extent of giving us a really full-bodied groove instead of fretboard flash exclusively. Every component of the music is contributing something to the physicality of this single, which hasn’t been the case in the last couple of big-hype rock tracks I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing. Bad Penny wants to crush us, and they’re not holding back in the least with any of the tools at their disposal.
While I do think that this arrangement could have been a little tighter and perhaps evoked some more directly metallic themes – beyond the appearance of Rob Halford at the microphone, of course – I can understand why Bad Penny wanted to go a little sludgier in this instance. There’s definitely nothing wrong with exploiting premium overdrive and muddy melodicism when you’ve got the ability to wield it with the kind of surgical precision that this band does, and to me, it almost wouldn’t have worked as well if they hadn’t pushed the envelope with the arrangement in terms of excess.
There’s no debating whether or not indulgence hasn’t been accepted within the mainstream rock or pop models for a long time now, but this could be what makes “Push Comes to Shove” such a fresh, unrelentingly fierce piece of music. Bad Penny isn’t running away from the inefficient in this single, but rather trying to make use of the same indulgences their contemporaries would just as soon throw away without ever even considering the notion of experimenting with them. That’s the definition of staying sharp in this game, and other critics will tell you the same thing.
I didn’t know anything about this group until I was turned onto them through their growing buzz in the underground, but if you’re into classic metal aesthetics running head-on towards a freewheeling rock sound that never quite becomes as “outdated” as some in music journalism would like for it to be, “Push Comes to Shove” is a must-listen. There are a handful of bands admittedly trying to do what Bad Penny is doing at the moment, but of those who are doing it with exceptional skill and owing little debt to the stronger groups in their scene, this one is definitely my favorite.