Break Anchor/All Eyes West - Viva La Rustbelt
Record Label: SideOneDummy
Release Date: July 17, 2012
There’s never really a sure-fire formula when it comes to making a great split. Some say it takes two similar but not exactly alike bands, others might suggest two completely opposite bands make for a better experience. Viva La Rustbelt falls more into the former though, as both All Eyes West and Break Anchor make their own brand of punk rock on this four song venture. Break Anchor might take the slight edge on this split in their continuation of personal, blue-collar punk fueled by blistering guitars and fiery drums, but All Eyes West certainly ain’t too shabby either with a smoother, less gritty approach to things. Fun and deplete of any bullshit, this is a split worth getting your hands on if you’re into punk rock of any walk or motivation.
While Jay Navarro’s lyricism isn’t the most quotable, his passion and unapologetic approach to telling his tales of drinking and questionable showgoers only fuel the sugar-coated grit of guitars and driving percussion. “Is It The Music?” shows a balance of upbeat and controlled, switching from smooth bass lines and an infectious chorus to a controlled melodic bridge that doubles as a welcome breather. The hardworking notions of the band cross over in the the tone of “Sinking My Own Ship” as well, again showing some weakness in the lyrical department while making up for it with catchy-as-fuck guitars. Again, the bridge here is a nice touch, though this time, the slowing of things doesn’t mean all of the aggression is dropped. It feels a bit formulaic after a couple lessons, but it would seem that it works well enough for the band.
All Eyes West succeed on a different plane though. “West Thirteenth” is mid-tempo rock with punching percussion throughout, all backed by a confident croon that isn’t too raspy or smooth for the varying sounds of the band. The highlight of the track might again actually be the instrumental break about half way through, as grinding strums and a driving kick reset the stage for an otherwise swell and release track of sorts. “From Under” is a bit grittier though, taking a slightly heavier direction while still remaining melodically aware and bright at times. It fits a bit better with the frantic style of Break Anchor, but in a way this track is a bit stagnant in itself at times. The chorus seems to stall out a bit in all of its Foo Fighters-tinged goodness, only to be saved by a constant resuscitation via vocal and melodic application. While certainly not the way I’d like to remember the band in the future, it is practically only a taste of the crunching rock they bring to the table.
Viva La Rustbelt isn’t perfect, but punk rock never is – in the moments of honesty heard throughout this split, there are prime examples of this. But in all seriousness, Break Anchor and All Eyes West have met on a point in there respective careers where neither is trying to accomplish the same thing musically. It is certain though that both continue to show they have promise for a strong future ahead of them.