Rock and roll is far from deceased, my dear brothrs and sistrs, it survives, snarl intact and prepared to kick some teeth in, all it needs are some volunteers. So who’s coming with me? Who’s ready to get on board the Psychophonic Express and let their ears ring for weeks with honest, raw, self-indulgent rock and roll? Then allow me to introduce your captain, Patrick Brink (vocals, guitar) and his trustworthy crew Jay Christenson (lead guitar, bass) and Tom Owsley (drums), a band of musicians who wish to take you away from the everyday and drop you off into the great unknown. “Requesting Permission to Land” is the latest offering from Volume, a brutal EP that reaches deep within the listener and slingshots your soul to the far places of the universe. These West Coast musicians combine psychedelia with killer musicality and effortlessly blend them into one of the best rock recordings of the last five years.
Armed with great guitar hooks, fantastic drumming, and a voice reminiscent of Roger Daltry, this band rocks and it rocks hard. There must have been a lineup change shortly after this album was completed, for the only active members on this recording are Brink and Christenson. Scott Reeder sits behind the set for all the tunes, and James Scoggins lays down the bass tracks, what happened between Brink and the original members is unknown to me, but I cannot deny Brink’s vision and the performance of those involved with this recording. The loose fuzz and chainsawed percussion of the first song “Habit” is exactly what the world needs now, complete with directionless solos floating above the chaos as Brink patiently delivers the chorus, “Gimme gimme gimme what I want/Gimme gimme gimme what I need.” This is self-indulgent, uncompromising rock and roll, fully capturing and exploiting the moment, and it is magnificent. Immediately following “Habit,” Volume kicks the tempo and flies into “Colossal Freak,” showing off the bottom of the drums and showcasing echoed vocals that would clear any quiet space in the room. Todd Nakamine adds a theramin, sending bizarre effects off into the atmosphere as the band pounds away relentlessly, providing an ambient effect that couldn’t be ignored if you tried. These are the guys that grew up on King Crimson and Blue Oyster Cult, but embraced the slop-rock aesthetic, probably nodding to their influences with a woodblock on the tune “Don’t Look Around” ala “Don’t Fear the Reaper” while using a guitar tone familiar to that of J Mascis. The addition of a hammond organ on “Makebelieve” and the finale “Headswim” further fills out the sound and makes it all the more psychedelic. In fact, “Headswim” begins with a humorous narration from an acid trip, lulling the listener into an uncomfortable easiness just as the drums cut through the static and blast the band through one of its finest moments on the record. The mission of Volume is to take you places you’ve never been before, blending one song into the next, only to leave five minutes of silence at the end, allowing the listener to either come down or take it all in.
The only thing lacking on “Requesting Permission to Land” is more songs, however exhausting that could be, I’m left wanting more of whatever Volume just did to me when this record ends. But I have faith in their decision, for this record, although seemingly sloppy at times, is very deliberate and the musicians involved are too good to sell their music short. Rock and roll is certainly not dead if records like this are still being made, I guess it took off to the underground, and if you’re ready, Volume would like to blast off. Please keep your seats in the upright position, tighten your safety belt, and prepare for one of the best aural ass-kickings you’ve ever had the pleasure of.