In September of 2005, bassist Alan Robert of thrash/metal band Life of Agony returned from tour early after learning that a close friend, Michael Lutz had passed away. Robert ended up writing the song "Unpredictable" in memory of Lutz, and Spoiler NYC was conceived. The tragic end of a life cut short also signaled a rebirth, as Robert would continue build his cache of songs, and out if it emerged Spoiler NYC.
The straight-up, Social Distortion-influenced punk of Spoiler NYC is interesting given the members' history. Robert of course came from the well-known hard rock band Life of Agony, enlisting close friend and guitarist "Junkyard" Chris Stilleti, the only member of the band to have come from a traditional punk background, having played with the likes of Steel Toe Solution. Drummer Tommy Clayton is perhaps the most intriguing addition, having played for five years in sub-par emo-pop-punk band Houston Calls, before leaving the band for Spoiler NYC‚?¶good move Tommy!
The previously mentioned Social Distortion influence is pervasive on Grease Fire in Hell's Kitchen. In fact, within the first three songs, there are already two references to Social D and its frontman Mike Ness. The thing is, outside of Ness's trademark outlaw-style vocals, Spoiler NYC does the punk'n'roll sound incredibly well. The song that started it all, "Unpredictable," is buried in the middle of the track list, which is probably good since it's kind of a downer. The lyrics are a touching account of Lutz' passing that don't lose sight of the bigger picture of life: "Under that devilish grin was a heart of gold / Now he's laid up in St. Catherine's / Semiconscious with the tubes stuck in / And he's not even 30 years old / [‚?¶] / Not sure if he'll ever survive / No‚?¶it's unpredictable." "Ruined" is arguably the catchiest song on the album that is, by any standards, as catchy as any classic-sounding punk today. Social D influences continue to abound on "Suicide Hotel," a mid-tempo rocker with chunky, palm-muted riffs that resemble "Bad Luck" just a tad.
The band hits its most pissed on the brutishly aggressive "Every Person Is Corrupt" with the gnashing lyrics, "I'm just one number on a goddamn screen / When they lie to my face I feel sick inside / And I despise all these suits and all these ties / They took my life away from me when they lied to my face / The only way to save what's mine is to spit right in their crooked eyes." The lyric sheet ends the song with the title's acronym "E.P.I.C.". Probably not coincidentally, Robert's other band, Life of Agony, signed to Epic in 2004...Alkaline Trio, take note.
Other highlights include the 1:12 street-styled trailblazer "Dead to Me," the ultra melodic "No Worries," and "High Friends in Low Places," a shameless yet good pilfering of the Garth Brooks "classic" of a similar name.
Although two of the members of NYC Spoiler came from punk music backgrounds, all of the writing in Grease Fire in Hell's Kitchen is credited to Robert, who is known more for the headbanging anthems of Life of Agony than any circle pit-inducing punk rock. However, Robert has not failed to deliver a great set of tunes in Grease Fire in Hell's Kitchen, and this may just be a stepping stone for further greatness to come from this budding project.