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Lionize - Jetpack Soundtrack (Weathermaker)

24 March 2014

Plenty of hard rock bands find a furrow and plow it endlessly, content to recycle themselves as long as the riffs hold out. “It’s time to evolve, man!” asserts Lionize on its fifth album, and takes its own advice. Jetpack Soundtrack showcases a group that’s grown and changed over time, incorporating melodic flourishes going beyond simple riffs and a rhythmic dexterity that really sets it apart from its heavy rock peers. “Breather” and “Electric Reckoning” bear down on serious grooves, roiling furiously danceable without crossing over into the dreaded realm of “funk rock.” Even the more straightforward rockers remain light on their feet – “Lazarus Style” and “Replaced By Machines” may incite as much hip-shaking and fist-pumping, and “Reality Check” doesn’t let a singalong chorus get in the way of movement of the feet. “Sea of Tranquility,” meanwhile, shows off a dreamier, more psychedelic side that folds in the band’s love of reggae and takes full advantage of the soulful voice of guitarist Nate Bergman. The frontman also indulges a penchant for snide, wordy libretto that satirizes the relationship between primitive man and the modern world – check the litany of conspiracy theories in “Amazing Science Facts” and the comic nerd seduction rap (namechecking Galactus, Magneto and Doctor Manhattan) of the title track. The band shares a deep love of riffs, groove and clever wordplay with Clutch – no wonder the latter signed Lionize to its own label. But Lionize is not Clutch clone – Jetpack Soundtrack proves it to be its own band, and a great one at that.