The debut from Charger finds that gray area between punk and metal that’s hard to pigeonhole to a specific genre. You’ll see more than one Motorhead reference in this review, which is both a good place to start and a pretty good complement.
Motorhead is really what comes to mind on a play-through of this ripper: just 7 songs over 19 minutes. Even knowing the lineup, it took until halfway through the second song, “Victim,” to really identify Matt Freeman’s bass style. He’s also on the microphone, but it’s nothing like his scratchy warble with Rancid. Instead, his Charger vocals are sharp and gutteral. (Jason Willer sings on "Victim" and "Fall Out.")
Neither bass nor vocals define Charger. Instead it’s the guitars, which is why I’d put it more on the metal side of that fuzzy line where we put our bands into boxes. There are a lot of influences that show, which I’ll name later, but the overall tone is forceful with an ear for hooks and secondary grooves. While guitars dominate the sound, there’s the trademark Freeman bass solo in “Victim” and an effects-pedal jammy interlude in “Damaged.” Meanwhile, the songs blaze past, mostly in that two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half minute range. It’s metal, but without all those solos and progressions that tend to bore me.
There are ominous tones of Black Sabbath in “Damaged” and “Dragdown,” a straight-up “Ace of Spades” vibe in “All Kings Must Die” (which I first mis-heard as “All Kids Must Die—eep!), and some notes of more dramatic metal like Iron Maiden and The Advantage. While I’ve always found charm in Freeman’s vocals in Rancid, they were a changeup and weren’t something that you’d exactly call “lead singing.” He holds his own well in Charger, with a powerful, strong delivery throughout, while the musicianship and sheer force behind the songs takes the true lead. The band also features drummer Jason Willer (U.K. Subs, Jello Biafra's Guantanamo School of Medicine).
7.5 / 10
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