Before I proceed with this review, I wanted to say one thing: Bandcamp is an amazing site! I have found so many artists and bands through them, and have been able to share some great music to others simply from searching by the genre. Using Bandcamp, I was recommended this next album, and immediately fell in love with it. A mix of hard rock, alternative rock, and even grunge rock, John Lancaster is a talented artist, providing some original and heavy rock music to spice up your life.
Residing in Huntington, West Virginia, Lancaster has played over the past two decades with several great musicians and bands. Since 2010, he has recorded three albums, one of which was released just a month ago. With support from Barry Smith on bass guitar, Josh Adkins on drums, and Mac Walker on guitar, the band is well rounded and a great backing to John Lancaster’s guitar, synth, and vocals. With a sound like Alice in Chains and Soundgarden, John Lancaster’s “A Penchant for Hell on Earth” is a great addition to any iTunes library loaded with hard rock and contemporary rock.
“A Penchant…” may only be an EP of 29 minutes in length, but it plays just like any studio album. The power behind this album is moving: the guitar and bass riffs are heavy, the drums are deep, the synths and organ are subtle, and the lead guitar shines. Lancaster jolts you with this album, literally. A shallow sound of guitar notes bending starts this album, only to blast in 30 seconds later with the rest of the band. That guitar-driven rhythm that has been replaced with the electronic beat over the years is here, reminding you about everything great with contemporary rock. There was nothing wrong with the standard rock sound of the 90’s, and “A Penchant…” shows what that sound has evolved into. This album is straight-up rock and roll, a sound some will say has faded away over the decades.
The great thing about this album is that each instrument shines in separate songs. The song “Long Gone” features some simple, yet great rhythm sections, sprinkled with sound effects like the wah pedal. “Jerusalem Syndrome” contains the most prominent bass lines on this album, reminiscent of bands like Pantera and Tool. The guitars take a step back to let the drums take center stage in “Penny Drops.” “Water Under a Burning Bridge” combines the use of overdriven rhythm guitars and Foo Fighters-like cymbals hits. All of these songs are layered over with Lancaster’s deep and scratchy vocals, his signature on all his albums.
My favorite song off this album is their title track “A Penchant for Hell and Earth.” The song is the most “progressive” of the other songs on the album, containing a long bridge section and very catchy lyrics. I think of this song as geared towards someone who has hurt Lancaster emotionally, which justifies the hard rhythm sections and dominant vocals. This album in general has this vibe, as if Lancaster has been holding back emotions that have been spilt onto this album. A powerful performance, “A Penchant…” does not hold back, and is a no-holds-barred statement of the greatness of the genre.
This album is recommended for those who are fans of 90’s hard rock bands like Alice in Chains, Pantera, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, and many others. Please support John Lancaster by visiting his Bandcamp page, where you can get a copy of his latest album FOR FREE! It’s hard to complain about great and free rock music. You can also find him on his Twitter and Facebook pages.