Review! Surface Report – “Stand By…”

Some time ago a couple of members from the now defunct local San Diego band Castoff began working on a new project called Surface Report.  In fact, after a few kinks were worked out, three out of four members of the last iteration of Castoff now comprise Surface Report.  So what has changed you might ask?  It’s the same tall singer guy (Bill Hockmuth).  It’s the same two proficient guitarists (Bill and Ron Santiago), and although not on the recording, it’s now the same bassist.  Aside from the name, it’s essentially the same band with a new drummer.  As I thought about it, I began to suspect that this format is somehow cosmically caused by the current bassist Brandon Lounsbury.  You see, he’s also in another band called Fallen Monuments.  Interestingly enough, Fallen Monuments is comprised of three out of four of the members from the now defunct band Strike the Design with the only differences being…you guessed it….the band name and the drummer!  Coincidence?  I think not, but I digress…

Silly trivia aside, Surface Report brings more change to the table than a simple drummer switch and a new band name.  The sound is certainly similar to Castoff.  How could it not be?  …but make no mistake about it, Surface Report is a superior progression!  Along with Dylan Wade on drums and the new name, the band is bringing a renewed sense of energy and some noticeable stylistic changes to the table as well.  While the music is still fast, it is far more heavily loaded with dissonance and thrashy metal riffs.  Perhaps even more noticeable is a new vocal attitude.  Bill has traded in a the 90’s melodic punk singing style for a grittier shouted/barked delivery.  One might surmise that much of the sonic change stems from Bill’s affinity for all-things-Propagandhi.  Whatever the case, I think the new vocal approach suits Bill much better.  He’s not a melodically impressive singer, but he can shout agro punk rock with the best of them.  In short, the new digs are bada$$ and Stand By is a damn ferocious debut!

With 9 songs the whole album barely clocks in over 20 minutes, which is a good thing, as an album of this nature would become exhausting if it carried on too long.  The overall mood is very consistent from one song to the next:  Angry>>>fast>>>(insert incendiary guitar shredding)>>>With a fair amount of change ups and breakdowns, I caution you not to think you’re going to settle in to any halftime grooves for too long.  The band will drop in & out of those types of moments, but they don’t stew in them.  Instead, they give you brief, hard hitting doses doses like a boxer coming in with a wicked combination. Once you get cracked in the temple the band immediately returns to their primary footwork which in this case is equivalent to trucking along to a double time tempo.  It’s relentless and I absolutely love it!  Stand out tracks include Things We Tell Ourselves, Constellations, and Quid Pro Quo, but there is riffage to look forward to in virtually every song!  Well done amigos!  Very well done!!! (handclaps & cheers)

4 out of 5 SDP Skulls

Artist:  Surface Report
Album:  Stand By…
Release Date:  July 28th, 2017

Reviewed by Todd Dulawan

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