With White Reaper’s latest album, the four-piece punk band has done it again.
Before Friday’s release of White Reaper Does It Again, the Louisville, Kentucky-natives joined the new wave of punk acts making their niche in creative, quick and enjoyable music with their first self-titled EP in 2014. Now, on WRDIA, the punk band continues to carve their way through the scene by creating a sound that foregoes a more artistic and innovative approach for an in-your-face aggression.
Although WRDIA is more than double the length of the band’s 16-minute EP, White Reaper successfully manages to keep up the energy in each song. The production work by Kevin Ratterman can be clearly heard in lead singer and guitarist Tony Esposito’s vocals. Ratterman’s choice of effects, specifically the more echoed style, build Esposito’s voice, fluidly combining with the instrumentation to avoid a potentially muddy mix of sounds.
Each song isn’t exactly what most punk purists would love. The White Reaper sound blends garage rock with punk to make what many potential fans feel is a more palatable album. Some might see this as a concession to a record label, but the combination of the two genres provides some truly relentless and hard-hitting music that can be enjoyed by almost anyone.
“Make Me Wanna Die,” the first song on the record, epitomizes the entire experience of this — and so far all — White Reaper releases. A speedy pace is established quickly, guitar progressions are simple but powerful, and the drumming by Nick Wilkerson drives the song to reach its full potential, which usually comes to an abrupt halt.
This general pattern flexes at points. The album’s concluding song, “B.T.K.,” whizzes past at a ridiculous BPM but still manages to translate properly. “On Your Mind” opens with Esposito’s distinct guitar riff, sounding a bit like “Jesse’s Girl.” “Friday the 13th” has an intriguing keyboard intro from Ryan Hater.
All of these subtleties work together to keep the listener curious and on their toes but also to show White Reaper’s well-roundedness. When any one member can be called upon to establish a song’s identity, it’s clear the group has their act together.
The influences of ’70s punk are clear. Overall, the entire album feels as if it could have been a long-lost Ramones project remixed and released 40 years later. All that's missing is the famous Ramones beginning count-off.
The main argument against WRDIA and White Reaper is their general lack of artistic vision and ingenuity. The album doesn’t carry any particular theme, with most songs sticking to the traditional girl problems and drug and alcohol use most punk bands cover. Plus, Esposito doesn’t enunciate particularly well, and that might deter some listeners.
It’s obvious the members White Reaper don't take themselves very seriously. They approached this LP with an attitude that didn’t concern itself with what other people wanted to hear; the band just wanted to make music its members enjoy.
In terms of messages and song construction, variety could help propel them to the top of punk and possibly even the upper-echelons of rock music, but, for now, White Reaper’s adrenaline-fueled raw sound will make listeners happy for a year and a half.
Album: White Reaper Does It Again
Genre: Garage Punk