These guys know how to start off a record, with the rapid fire “Battered” pummeling with riffage for the first minute and then Jeff Burke’s familiar vocals chime in and the record transitions to melodic and punky pop songs—and not the kind of pop that’s usually attached to that word. While a minute isn’t a long time for an instrumental break for most bands, it’s half of a Radioactivity song and 1/24 of the record. “Battered” is a song that should lead off a show every night and, just maybe, it will.
Silent Kill is the second full-length from Texas’ Radioactivity so it’s about time to put references to past band behind, right? Well, almost. It’s worth noting that the band is Burke (Marked Men, Potential Johns) and Mark Ryan (Marked Men, Mind Spiders), along with two members of fellow Denton, TX band Bad Sports. That’s relevant because the bands share common songwriting characteristics, with their songs always melodic, short blasts of singalong rock. Think if The Ramones played more 1960s-style garage rock, but faster. The interplay between instruments is a big component, namely the quick basswork and guitar interchanges that give a rumbling aspect such as the start of “Battered” or also well illustrated in the later song, “With You.” It’s a constant stream of note progressions that have an anxious but positive energy. Burke’s voice at the front is mostly in the same key throughout, not showing a ton of range and that sometimes makes the record a little samey, but it’s got a smile behind it—always sounding upbeat and looking forward with a serious caffeine buzz going on.
For both Marked Men and, now, Radioactivity, it’s always been mostly awesome with a tad too much sameness. The progression here, from 2013’s self-titled number, is steady. There’s a little more of that rumble and, better yet, a little more emotion besides that anxiety that somewhat alleviates the repetitive feel that sometimes overtakes their songs. Burke’s voice will never carry into many new registers, but he works with what he has and the songs are more distinct here on Silent Kill. “Way Out” has one of the top melodies of the year so far, and “Pretty Girl” is classic beautiful pop run through a garage filter. Elsewhere, “No Alarm” is an example where it bears that unmistakable songwriter stamp but it’s got an extra heavier aggression but what really makes it stand out are the snares that give a peppery and danceable twist.
Overall, this adds up to a hell of a record that plays too fast and ends fairly abruptly when, at 3:06, “Pretty Girl” pulls the rug. The song ends cleanly enough but 12 songs deep there’s an expectation that the anxious beat will continue. When it stops, there’s a deafening silence. At least until hitting repeat.
8.8 / 10
Posted Aug. 4, 2018, 12:31 p.m.
This October Radioactivity will embark on an East-bound tour kicking off in St. Louis, MO and spanning across the US East Coast (plus Toronto). They'll be joined on the ...
Posted Feb. 24, 2018, 1:54 p.m.
In more festival news, Damanged City Fest 2018 returns to Washington, DC from April 5-8. The annual punk and hardcore festival is now in its sixth year and, among other ...
Posted July 4, 2016, 10:35 a.m.
Dirtnap artists Radioactivity have scheduled a short UK tour for the end of July. The band, featuring Jeff Burke (The Novice, Marked Men), also includes members of Bad Sports and ...
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