The hooks on Copper's first CD, Exchange, are just plain seductive. The record is a startling notice of the band's Big Rock sound, tailored perfectly for FM radio: smooth, fat guitars, earnest and thoughtful vocals, chugging rhythms that crash into soaring choruses. All in all, this is a polished record—good songs, energetic performances, and clean production—that's more than just a promising debut.
It's easy to make the comparisons to Creed, Pearl Jam, Staind, etc. Copper's certainly not breaking any new ground here. But while they're treading in familiar territory, they've put their own stamp on contemporary arena rock, sounding perhaps conservative but certainly not derivative. Singer Keith Wallen is clearly the biggest asset the band has. His voice is big and warm, with a dynamic range that reaches from guttural howls to whispered vulnerability to soaring crescendos.
The standout songs are "Around," the ballad "Holding Out," and the burnout rocker "The First Time." The eight-song disc suffers from the same mid-tempo pace on every song; a ballad that doesn't quite reach lighter-salute heights or a real flare-up would be welcome. But each song is well-constructed, and the accomplishment on Exchange is especially surprising considering the band's youth and that they've been together just over a year.
Yeah, yeah, yeah—this is Metro Pulse, and we're only supposed to like bands that play the Pilot Light and draw crowds in the dozens, not bands that bring in hundreds of people at the Campus Pub. But it's been a long time since such an openly friendly and populist band has had much impact here, and it's a welcome relief.
Immortal Chorus, Premonition
Immortal Chorus was nothing short of a phenomenon on the local scene in the early '90s. The band packed the house at Flamingo's and other long-gone clubs but somehow faded quietly away after a couple of years. Following a handful of reunion shows and half-starts in the intervening years, Steve Britton finally got everything back in order and Immortal Chorus is a full-on band again, playing regularly in town and now releasing Premonition, as solid a grunge-metal-dirge record as anything they did a decade ago.
In parts spooky and mournful, in other parts ferocious, raging wall-of-noise rock, Premonition is sinister throughout. Britton's effects-laden vocals chant and swoon with theatric flourishes; the heavy guitars chime and churn and swell; the rhythms are alternately gentle and pummeling. There's an obvious debt to Joy Division, but Immortal Chorus has a much fuller sound, drawing as much on the opulent decadence of Anne Rice novels as on Ian Curtis's lacerating bed-of-nails desperation.
The most effective songs are "Jekyll and Hyde," an allegorical tale about the darkness inside all of us; "Matador," a re-recording of an early favorite with an appropriately galloping beat and fierce guitar lines; and the singalong anthems "The Best Laid Plans" and "The Devil's Hooks," the brightest songs on the disc. For all the Goth trappings, these are all good rock songs. And the Goth hook never hides the intelligence under Immortal Chorus's dramatic act. They've been missed, and it's good they're back.