Jeff Carlson Band Releases “Enemy Within”
In a good rock song, everything starts and ends with the guitars, and the Jeff Carlson Band are definitely aware of this in their new single “Enemy Within” this summer. Defiantly groove-centric but sporting some of the heaviest riffs I’ve heard in a melodic hard rock song this year, “Enemy Within” has moments of sounding both guttural and poignantly polished, balancing the circular with the rebellious without sounding fractured in the process. The Jeff Carlson Band are newcomers to the spotlight, but judging from the passion in this single, the Vegas rockers will find themselves most comfortable on the primetime stage.
This bass is deliberately made louder than the drums, but as much as you might think this would create discordance between the percussion and the guitar parts, it somehow has the opposite effect. There’s an argument to be made that the bassline is the major component separating the overbearing thrust of the drums and the bleeding overdrive of the string play, both of which serve a much better purpose on opposing sides of the mix than they ever would smashed together. Being meticulous can get you into trouble with indulgence as a pop songwriter, but in this scenario, it can make a positive difference in how audiences perceive your musicianship.
Carlson himself has a commanding presence over the groove that I haven’t heard enough of in hard rock recently, and whether he’s belting out a verse or pulling back a little, it’s clear from the jump that every movement within the rhythm originates with his delivery. He doesn’t have to try hard to stand up to these guitars given his profoundly melodic style, and if he’s able to present his sound with just as much panache in a live performance, his eponymous band will grow in popularity faster than you can spell sensation.
There’s definitely a metallic influence in this group’s sound that I would like to hear them play with just a little more than they do in “Enemy Within,” but as conservatively as possible. I can tell they’re capable of coming undone just as much as they are being precise and focused in this performance, and with a nudge in the right direction, I don’t see why their aesthetics couldn’t afford an even heavier show of strength to follow-up this single. It’s something worth considering, and a concept a lot of their contemporaries just won’t be able to toy with naturally.
They’re stylized as hard rockers, but don’t let the labels get you twisted; the Jeff Carlson Band’s music is just as much a boon to metalheads as it is anyone else in the riff-worshiping American underground. “Enemy Within” has rough edges that you can’t help but fall in love with if you’ve been feeling as deprived of volume-based virtuosities as I have in the past year, and though they’re not trying to rebuild the mantle of Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath in this release, you can tell much of the emotion that drove those two bands to superstardom lives inside of these four players.
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