Album Review: Road Trip by Hippos Of Doom

By Alex Berger | June 1st, 2013 | Posted In Album Review

{April 23, 2013}

Thumper Punk

What makes a good EP? When executed well the EP can pack the perfect punch, providing a platform for more progressive and sprawling bands to deliver their material in a concise, to the point package.  At its most potent, the EP allows a band to go for the throat, throwing everything, including the kitchen sink, at a brick wall and letting the shards reign down on the unsuspecting listener.
Young, up and coming bands (especially punk) generally use the EP to get their music out of the practice space and into the ether before they have enough songs to actually record an entire album. At times the vigor and energy of an early EP can be an absolute shrapnel bomb and capture perfectly the essence of a young band.  Other times the songs simply seem rushed and half-baked, which brings us to Hippos of Doom (HOD from this point forward.)

All signs from HOD’s Facebook page point to a love of three things: Jesus, punk, and Star Wars. Excellent. All of those things made me optimistic about the Road Trip EP. But after spinning the album about a dozen times and writing about four drafts of this review, I came away from the EP largely underwhelmed.

“Old School Rocking Crew’’ does start the EP off with its best food forward. Complete with a catchy Blink-182 style guitar line and a ska verse rhythm, the song is a fun “Road Trip” anthem and had me humming along to that infectious guitar riff.

The second track “Wool Brigade” is essentially a blast a four chord punk fury with a ripping bass line that stands out as the best part of the entire track, as the rest feels fairly garden variety and predictable.
The combo of the next two tracks made for an interesting listening experience, as the worst track of the entire EP was followed by the best. “The Royal Philharmonic Goes to the Bathroom” has the worst title of any track on the album, but is far and way the best musically. While still not bringing anything very unique to the table, when the chunky chords of the verse give way to a thrashy riff sure to snap some necks in the audience, I can’t help but smile and thrash right along side them. “Philharmonic…” also brings the only actual solo on the entire EP, and while it feels a bit timid, I’m glad at least one song has a solo at all.

It probably seems strange that I skipped to the best track first, but I have been avoiding the worst. “Holiday Road” positions itself right in the center of the EP, which is probably a good thing, as it gives the listener a chance to take in “Philharmonic…” and the last track “Judge Not” and not be left with a bad taste in their mouth. For the bulk of “Holiday Road” nothing too terrible occurs…until the chorus. Now, I’m sure the intention was to achieve a sort of Bad Religion style “Whoaaaaa, Whoaaaaa” backing vocal. That’s great, I love Bad Religion, but to  these ears that backing vocal singing “holiday roooaaadddd” is so out of tune that it becomes almost unlistenable. Even now I can’t get it out of my head, and while the majority of the album is nothing to write home about, that track and that vocal is the one spot that actually crosses over into the category of “bad.”
Ultimately good punk bands have one of two things going for them. They either have a good, or at least unique vocalist that that is able to cover for the use of standard punk chord progressions, or they have good players able to cover the sub- par vocalist. Hippos of Doom fall just shy on both fronts. The playing is not bad but its not great, and the vocals do the job but don’t stand out enough to really elevate the band or the songs. There lies the biggest problem with this EP, it simply sits, comfortably in the middle, not very memorable, and not evoking a strong reaction either positive or negative.

[rating=2]

~Alex Berger

 

“Note From Editor”

This album is being hosted as a free download from our friends at Indie Vision Music. Click here to download.

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