If you weren’t around for metal’s first incarnation (the one that slowly dissipated into the shrewd train wreck known as hair metal), get on board: The indie-metal revival is coming through your town. Luckily, bands such as Karp and Unwound ensured metal’s legitimate survival through the nineties, when most groups planted themselves firmly in the blossoming indie-rock garden. Thanks to those martyrs, there’s a whole world of indie metal that’s free of spandex — and the tarnished name.
Federation X keeps the metal torch burning and the power chords thumping on its fourth album, Rally Day, which successfully bridges the musical gap between the Camaro-driving hesher and the indie-rock crate-digger. It’s far from groundbreaking, but it’s a solid collection of heavy guitar that provides enough of a reason to drive fast.
The band’s moniker seems more fitting for a teenage gutter-punk band, but don’t be fooled. With two four-string guitars pounding out seventies-style fuzz riffs and a drummer who has both arms, Federation X is as metal as it comes. Simple set-ups, heavy chords, pounding drums and reverb-drenched vocals comprise the band’s recipe.
Rally Day, nine songs of fuzzed-out metal with a handful of head-bang-worthy grooves, finds the bicoastal trio not stretching very far from the Steve Albini-produced X Patriot, released in 2003. Opener “Nightmare Nation” follows a quick drum fill to jump into power-chord heaven, with pulled-back vocals howling like the second coming of Black Sabbath. “The Most Unlucky Sound” is far from unlucky. Its quick riffs and metal sound is comparable to what DFA 1979 is drumming up these days. Only this has more sludge.