Lo-Pro’s self-titled album not only marks
the debut of the group, it’s also the first offering from Aaron Lewis’
413 Records. The pressure was on both the band and the label to produce
something exceptional. Luckily for both, the music seems to be up to the
The group was founded by vocalist Pete
Murray and guitarist Neil Godfrey, who had played together for years in
the industrial rock band Ultraspank. A band that released two critically
acclaimed albums on Epic that never quite seemed to catch on in a big way
with the public.
Demoralized with the lack of success of
Ultraspank, the group disbanded--Murray and Godfrey opted for day jobs
and left rock n roll behind. But rock is something ingrained in you that
you can’t shake off to become quietly domesticated with a 9-to-5 job. Godfrey
wasn’t about to give up the dream and began writing new songs. Once he
had a few strong tracks together he visited his old vocalist, Murray, who
at that time had pretty much given up his dreams of rock n roll stardom.
But once he heard the new songs, he was reinvigorated.
“The minute Neil showed up with these new
songs... it was weird, things started to happen differently,” remembers
Murray. “We didn't set any goals; we were just making music to have fun.
That's where the name came from--we wanted to keep the hype to a minimum
and let the music speak for itself."
The duo set about recording demos of the
tracks on a computer Murray’s bedroom. Once they had what they felt was
a strong demo tape, they began putting out feelers for a deal. One of those
feelers reached Staind vocalist Aaron Lewis who had just launched a new
label with Geffen boss Jordan Schur.
"I was really picky about what I brought
to the table as my first band, and I found exactly what I wanted with Lo-Pro,"
says Lewis. "I was handed a demo that Pete and Neil made in Pete's bedroom
on a computer--and it sounded better than most of the finished product
being played on the radio."
But two guys in a bedroom with a demo does
not a band make and Lewis told Godfrey and Murray they needed a full lineup
and advised them to “surround yourself with the right people”.
So they went about auditioning musicians
to fill out the group. They brought aspiring rockers to their 7-square-foot
rehearsal space to audition. They found kindred spirits with former Godsmack
drummer Tommy Stewart and former Snot and Amen bassist Jon Fahnestock,
both of whom had been down the road before. They hired on guitarist Pete
Ricci to round out the group and they were ready to rock and roll.
With a full band in place, the group was
ready to go forward. Lewis signed them up and sent them off to NRG studio
in Los Angeles with producer Don Gilmore (Linkin Park) to record their
The stakes were high, Lewis needed a great
record to launch his new label and the band needed a great record to launch
their career. The end result is a cohesive glimpse into some of the strongest
elements of modern hard rock with a mix of nu-metal and tingles of industrial
flavor, crafted with an ear towards melody—a formula that Linkin Park rode
to multi-platinum glory. The exception here is the absence of the rap and
songs that are more defined with musical credibility.
The guitars are heavy and the rhythms pound
hard but vocalist Pete Murray gives the band their melodic edge, captured
with his moodily dynamic and raw vocals that fall closer to Finger Eleven
and Flaw than the real vocals found on a Linkin Park record.
This isn’t nu-metal by the numbers and
that fact is quickly evident with the opening song “Fuel”, a track where
the band shows off their musical ability and Murray showcases his vocal
range. Beyond that song, the band continues to find a perfect balance between
heavy rock and melody. The balancing act makes for a rather dynamic record
as heard on a track like “Sunday” which packs a real punch but also is
melodic enough to capture the ears of a mainstream audience.
But the real high point comes when they
dial back the heaviness a couple notches as they did with the song “Reach”,
while not a ready made radio hit, the song really encompasses the melodic
strengths of the band.
When it comes to sure-fire radio hits look
no further than “Walk Away,” a melodic and moody rocker where the vocals
on the verses really separate the band from the pact and like most songs
on this album sound more in line with Vast than say Linkin Park. This song
is a showboat for Murray’s dynamic vocal interplay between screams and
melodious ear candy.
Lo-Pro does standout from the pack with
their self-titled debut, it’s familiar enough to attract fans of today’s
top nu-metal groups but different enough to give those same groups a run
for their money. They standout because Lo-Pro seems to have captured what
actually works with nu-metal, while discarding the elements that have derailed
other bands looking to leave their mark on the world of rock.
Aaron Lewis and the band can be proud;
they both seemed to have hit a homerun the first time up to bat. Now we
have to wait and see if that translates into commercial success.
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