Even if the music on this gem of a little stoner EP had been more dirt than sticky, skunky goodness, I would probably have given it a free pass to awesome-ville based on the cover image of the hot chic with hair that looks like a wedding cake humping Princess Leia circa Jabba Slave RoTJ that adorns the cover art. It brings me back to the wholesome days of Type O’s Bloody Kisses when Peter Steele realized they would probably sell more albums if there were two lesbians making out on the cover rather than a picture of his sphincter. Perhaps critics will say the imagery is just an easy way to attract eyes, since it doesn’t seem to have much to do with the lyrics. Anyway you slice it, Pillbuster still bring the groove and the grit hard on this 4 song EP. The Virginia Beach band are sure to please fans of everything from Clutch to Scissorfight to even Hellyeah. Opening with the funky, dirt rock guitar of “Prophet Kill” and never looking back, this EP flies by too soon but leaves burnt rubber and the smell of hellfire behind. This is one of those bands like Weedeater or ASG who you hear on wax and just know you have to see ’em live.
Brothel was recorded and at Osceola Studios in Raleigh, NC by Dick Hodgin (COC, Velvet Revolver, Lynyrd Skynyrd), and was mastered by Kitchen Mastering. Whatever tricks they used, the sound is big and warm but has the kind of lean power that we expect from bands like COC and Fu Manchu at their best. This band isn’t changing the playbook but they are certainly a welcome addition to the scene. The songs all share a sort of similar level of laid back intensity, if that makes sense. There are just enough dynamics, mostly in the Gibson guitar playing awesomeness, to keep it from monotony. Mostly though, like any good brothel you know what you’re here for. Still, a little more variety will serve them well in the future.
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“Prophet Kill” sets the tone, a short song that is kind of over too soon but in a good way, like Clutch’s “Who Wants To Rock?”, arguably the coolest once live staple off their Jam Room record. Pillbox’s track “A Parting Gift” brings to mind more of a Transnational-era clutch sound, though. Kind of grooving and dirgy blues guitar and relentless, howled vocals with a great, throaty scream quality to them, courtesy of frontman Brett Lloyd.Brett kind of looks like if the Puddle of Mudd singer was actually not a screwball and wanted to just rip faces off with his vocal roars. Yes, the difference here is…he fuckin’ hates you! Hahaha.
The fourth and last song is the title track, a punchy number with a slightly odd meter that jams real hard and throws some cool twists into the mix in the form of great guitar patterns and overlapping drum brilliance. It is the most sophisticated and coolest number on this baby and shows the band have a lot of potential. I expect with their next full length I will give them a higher review, as they are a bit rough around the edges here and there but could hold their own with many hard rock greats if given time. Looking forward to seeing what the future holds for this group. This is a great jumping on point for rock fans who just want some kick ass stoner jams with no bullshit. Set the sky on fire, y’all.