Against The Grain - Surrounded By Snakes [EP] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Against The Grain

Surrounded By Snakes [EP] (2013)

Self Destructo Records

There are currently a ton of great bands in Detroit, but few of them can claim to work as hard as Against The Grain. ATG has only been around since 2009, but will be releasing their fourth full length later this year. The band hit the ground running and has already done more than twenty tours, with no sign of slowing down any time soon. The impressive list of bands that ATG has toured with is a virtual who's who of punk and metal heavy hitters. The band has shared the stage with The Meatmen, Negative Approach, Gang Green, Guttermouth, Hellmouth, Nashville Pussy, and Fang, just to name a few. At their shows, you will see a rare mixture of punks and headbangers, going off, side by side.

Surrounded By Snakes picks up right where 2012's Motor City Speed Rock (recently re-issued on 10") left off. Against The Grain's music is a combination of the speed of Zeke and the attitude of Motorhead, with the stoner rock of Fu Manchu also in the mix. Every album contains what feels like a lifetime's worth of riffs. The record opens with "Raise Your Glass", it's a ripper that might give a wink to George Thorogood's "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer". The Chorus of the title track is "Surrounded by snakes, I can tell there is no one to trust/Ashes to ashes, dust to dust". It could be an indictment of the music business, or maybe society itself. "Get In The Van" starts out with a slower Sabbathy jam before kicking into gear. It's probably no coincidence that it shares its name with the Henry Rollins book. It seems like a mantra for the nomadic lifestyle they've chosen to embrace.

Against The Grain play fast, this is what most defines their sound. Most of their choruses are catchy enough to sing along to, without being overly repetitive. "Don't Care What You Say" and Livin' A Lie" are especially prone to get stuck in your head. "Last Breath" has a washed out sound that is reminiscent of Pepper Keenan era Corrosion Of Conformity. ATG also regularly play cool dual guitar leads that recall Thin Lizzy. Closing track, "Extinction", is a good example of this. Surrounded By Snakes is a dozen songs in a little over a half hour, and there is a lot to like. Constant touring has made ATG into an extremely tight musical machine. Their last couple of records have been great, even if they are just an excuse to get back on the road.