Sift through the empty beer bottles in the dustiest recesses of your mind and head back to 2011. On Top‘s début (Top Heavy) hits the shelves and like its cheesy 80s era cover art, the contents reeked with the stench of immaturity. Three years on and Philideliphia’s On Top haven’t changed their leopard print cock-rocking undies! Nope, they’re still pimping album art that would have played well as the alternate cover on Bon Jovi‘s Slippery When Wet, but musically On Top‘s latest EP boasts a band that’s matured and added a magnetic punk-rock aggression to their brand of heavy rock. Can Top to Bottom‘s brief taster of what’s to come do away with the fetor of the past?
It does indeed! “No Shame” swaggers in with a sultry bass riff that crackles of simplicity, dirt and catchiness, kicking off an EP steeped in the feel of classic rock with a modern edge that’s not unlike the sound of Mach22. Newcomer Brian Davis (lead guitar) picks right up on the back end of Jaron’s (Mach22) bass work and although Brian’s noodling has a youthful kind of fun rebellion, it also introduces more intelligent and seamless transitioning than I experienced on tracks of old. His guitar work is melodic and super catchy, but not all that technical, which I doubt was the aim of the game on this album anyway.
Jaron’s vocals fit the punk-rock attitude of “No Shame” and at times he comes across bearing the similar hardcore vocals to that of Municipal Waste‘s Tony Foresta. his clean braggadocio comes out full force, strutting its stuff in the final minute and a half of “Bad Love” and what should just be another cheesy pleather dressed homage to 80s rock ends up digging its shiny red talons in, and I unashamedly admit I want more dammit!
“Cold and Blue” and “Don’t Go” follow on roughly in the same way as “No Shame.” At times both these tracks have the feel of My Chemical Romance and I wouldn’t have been surprised to find these tracks secreted away on Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys! Danny Disgustor of death metal band Fisthammer handles the drums on Top to Bottom and WOW, this is the biggest improvement on this EP when compared to On Top‘s earlier release. Danny actually sounds like he’s part of the band, he’s not doing anything particularly dramatic or wildly interesting, but what he delivers holds the tracks together well with Jaron’s sticky bass lines.
Top To Bottom was recorded at Tribe Sound Studios with engineering and mixing by Brian Davis and mastering by Chris “The Wizard” Collier (Lynch Mob). The sound is modern with just enough of a nod to the era to which it’s paying homage. On Top have found a neat way of putting some life into their cock-rock offering. I can’t say they’re doing anything genre defying and their instrumentation is not any more technical than it needs to be. But Top to Bottom does indicate a band that’s raised the bar on their earlier work, they’ve evolved and they’re delivering their finest effort to date. Top to Bottom consists of only 4 tracks which is a pity, it’s a fun listen, and at the end of the day if metal can’t be fun what’s the damn point of it all!