Friday, January 3, 2014

Turnstile - Step 2 Rhythm

Step 2 Rhythm
Reaper Records

I had trouble getting motivated to write this one. Another day in front of the laptop with The Office flickering in the back while I contemplate my approach to Step 2 Rhythm by Baltimore's Turnstile. I fret and I worry because Turnstile is affecting one of my favorite bands, TRAPPED UNDER ICE. I've been a big fan ever since the Stay Cold EP and I even got to interview those guys back in the day. Trapped Under Ice is the "little band in my back pocket"; a personal favorite about which I feel protective.

Believe it or not, this whole Turnstile thing has to do with Trapped Under Ice's hiatus. The Powers That Be are going to try to break Turnstile into the big time in 2014. Vinyl on Reaper; CD and digital on a yet-to-be-named mid-major. The drummer of Trapped Under Ice is the frontman in Turnstile. All other TUI members are on the Turnstile staff as tour manager, merch manager, road manager, brand manager; everyone's a manager. It looks good on the old 1099 to say manager.

Within the next 12 months, we'll see if this crazy stunt works or not. In the meantime, let's take a look past the marketing scheme and examine the actual music.

I'm happy to report that Turnstile may be on to something with this "let's break into the big time" angle. You can afford to be ambitious when you've got songs like this to back up all the talk. Step 2 Rhythm is filled with elements of modern East Coast hardcore with tons of MADBALL-style breakdowns and an influence that is equal parts BAD BRAINS, QUICKSAND, (the non-moronic moments of) BIOHAZARD, and DAG NASTY. The band's secret weapon is a level of musicianship that is far superior to any of its contemporaries.

Turnstile is the real deal and Step 2 Rhythm is the preview to a potentially game-changing debut LP. KORN was at a crossroads like this after recording its four-song demo with Ross Robinson back in 1993. Both Korn then and Turnstile now are legit scene bands coming up like everyone else but then they both discovered oil wells. They made music that met its genre conventions but was undeniably catchy and accessible. This is a good problem to have.

So, is Turnstile trying to sell out? By definition, maybe, but I'm not going to fault the band for shooting for the Moon. Is Turnstile going to be the next BLINK-182? The band has a better shot at it than most. Is 2014 going to be a big year for Turnstile regardless what happens? Definitely. Can we all take comfort in the fact that, if this Turnstile thing bombs hard, at least Trapped Under Ice will be back in 2015? Yes, but it would be a phyrrhic victory.


No comments: