It might be bad to say that I’m immediately reminded of several other bands by the Steel to Dust EP from Portland band Anchor Down.
First of all, and bearing no weight on the quality of the music, the band’s name is reminiscent of a band that I’ve reviewed here on IC – Anchors For Arms – which subsequently reminds me of the now defunct local OKC band, Arms For Arsenal. So initially it was difficult to identify the band separately from these bands in my mind.
Upon listening comes the second set of bands I’m reminded of. Anchor Down favors the same sort of melodic, Midwestern-flavored punk rock that one might hear from the likes of the Gaslight Anthem (one of my favorite bands, so that’s a good thing for this reviewer), American Steel and my good friends from OKC, Red City Radio. The sound is strong and definitely feels like the sort of anthem one needs for a long car drive with the windows down on a summer afternoon with fists pumping. It’s energetic and has a lot of spirit to it.
The guitars are relatively simple but highly effective, with driving power chords and subdued riffs that never come off as flashy. The bass and drums on these six songs are both solid and show a degree of skill from Matt Brown and Sean Cisneros, but Brown’s bass definitely takes a backseat to Cisneros’ drumming and is by far the least noticeable part of the band’s sound. Cisneros especially shows his skill in the intro to “Crass-A-Nova.” The vocals from guitarists Alex Hudjohn and Lucas Andrews compliment the music quite well, but fail to really stand out over the instrumentation, since both rarely show more variation or range that a gruff baritone. This slight monotony tends to make the vocals less attention-grabbing, which is a shame because the lyrics are quite well written. Fortunately, this isn’t a problem for “World War 1,” the EP’s definite stand-out track, or for “Never Was A Lesson Learned (Remember Me),” which I would say is runner up to the title.
I think Steel to Dust shows a great amount of promise from this group, and I very much look forward to future releases to see how they refine their sound. I will be quite content to let the songs play whenever they pop up on my iTunes, but I can’t say I’ll be listening to this EP over and over again. If you enjoy bands like Gaslight Anthem or Dillinger Four, or just like good, solid rock music, I would definitely recommend checking out Anchor Down.