Album Review: Flatwounds debut EP, “Raw”

Raw, the debut EP from local band Flatwounds, is a fitting introduction to this relatively new group, who have made a splash in the scene in the scant months they’ve been together. There’s no case of false advertising here: this home-recorded set of songs represents some of the earliest compositions from the band, and there are no bells and whistles here. The songs hit hard, and the recordings largely represent the band’s live sound, with minimal additional elements.

Flatwounds has primarily been categorized as a grunge band, and listening to singer Colin O’Hare’s raspy vocals alone is easy to see why. The influence of that scene is evident, but it would be a mistake to ignore the other elements of the sound. Matt Degnan’s guitar riffs pay homage to thrash and Black Sabbath in addition to the grunge influences. The bass (played by David Granger) and guitar lock in rhythmically and melodically a lot of the time, providing some extra heft to the riffs. Wade Coonrad’s drums help drive everything forward with minimal flash. Everyone is highlighted in different parts of the EP, but the overall impression is of a cohesive unit moving forward on each track.

Opener, “Grudge,” begins with a slow, menacing bass line before the guitar and drums crash in to start marching forward. The vocal phrases start between beats of the main thrust of the instruments, providing some interesting movement to the track. “Fade’ alternates between heavier, metallic riffs and slower, plodding breakdowns under the refrain of “I’ll fade out,” sung in time with the guitar. It gets heavier in “Toaster Bath,” which includes some additional vocals in the second verse and a quietly spoken word interlude woven into an instrumental breakdown. “Chrome” slows things down briefly, though it preserves the dark tone of the music and lyrics. Closer “Rust” may be my personal favorite on the EP. It’s the shortest track at less than two and a half minutes, but it packs a lot into that short span. The galloping guitar riffs are metal through and through, and the vocal delivery goes in interesting directions.

Lyrically, the EP deals with decay and disintegration, dark subject matter that pairs well with the music. The songs are short, never breaching the three-minute mark. It seems fitting of a band gearing up for their first-weekend tour (with fellow Albany house scene favorites Miller Time) in such a short span of time. Raw is a good primer on the band’s current sound, but don’t be surprised if new material branches out from here: if the past few months are any indication, these guys won’t be resting on their laurels, and they’ll continue to inject their varied influences as they move forward.

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