Maximum RNR - Horns Up [EP] (Cover Artwork)

Maximum RNR

Horns Up [EP] (2005)


Being from Canada often puts bands at a disadvantage in terms of touring. Going through stylistic changes in an already limited style of music can throw in a few hurdles when building a fan base. Naming yourselves after a legendary and sometimes controversial punk rock newsprint magazine for no apparent reason just confuses everyone. Well, all three of these statements apply to a little-known band from Toronto called Maximum RNR. Originally called Maximum RNB back in the day, the quintet blasted out soul-based rock along the lines of MC5 before deciding to part ways with their original vocalist in favor of a new one who would transform them into a visceral punk n’ thrash onslaught known as Maximum RNR.

Horns Up captures the band at their high-water mark in 2005 by racing through a frantic presentation of six songs in just over six minutes. The band embrace a less is more mantra on this recording and bash their way through mean guitar riffs covered in Louie Durand’s gruff vocals. Lead guitarist Keith Carman noodles his way through a maze of difficult lines and the boys throw in more than a few stop-on-a-dime pauses showing a very high level of technical play. If I had to make a sonic comparison here, I would say it sounds like D.R.I.’s Dirty Rotten LP beating up Electric Frankenstein’s How to Make a Monster album. The energy is exceptional and it really sounds as if the group rattled the songs off in one or two takes. Then just as quickly as it starts, it ends.

Sometimes a recording can truly capture the feeling of seeing one of your favorite bands live. The Horns Up EP by Maximum RNR is the best example I own in my entire music collection of what it was like to see a band rip on stage back in the day. I cannot give it an average score when the hair on the back of my neck still stands up when I hit play almost nine years later. The vocal performance by Durand and the guitar work by Carman are still among the best on my record shelf. Unfortunately the band parted ways with Durand a couple of years after this recording, but have continued on with other vocalists in his place. Despite their best efforts, it is not the same. Lightning was caught in a jar on Horns Up.

Note: Horns Up later appeared as tracks 7 through 12 on The Black And White Years release. You can check that out here.

Check out the track "Trust Us" below.