Release Date: April 23, 2013
As of late, the rock genre hasn’t been on my radar too much. With so many countless metal releases, it is easy to get lost in a sea of endlessness. However, I recently began a small trek back into it, and I may have found something quite promising. Stardog Champion makes its way onto the scene and in what may be a decent fashion. Now this name may seem pretty familiar, considering it is the name of a song by Lifer and features an ex-member of the band, Nick Coyle. That isn’t the best part though. Stardog Champion also features two ex-members of Breaking Benjamin (guitarist Aaron Fink and bassist Mark Klepaski) which has been and still is one of my favorite bands today.
As you may know, Breaking Benjamin had some issues arise and cause a lot of controversy within the band. Although I’m devastated about the results, I will leave everything up to the those involved to figure something out amongst themselves. It seems that the ex-members have done so with their contributions to this pop-ish, punk-ish, somewhat grunge rock band (yeah a lot of genre influences in this one). Before you listen to this EP, leave any thoughts behind about whether this band will sound anything like Breaking Benjamin. They don’t. At all. Which is a good thing.
Exhale starts off strong, with the song named “Aphrodite”, incorporating a creeping, flowing guitar (which sadly doesn’t last too long) that turns into an ever so familiar rock rhythm. You can already tell that these guys are different from most of the rock bands out there, but they still have an accessible quality to them. Coyle has a great range and ability in his vocals and they come off as that familiar flavor as mentioned before. Add a bit of pop flavor in the chorus and you have yourself a good solid foundation for new listeners to get into the music.
“Nothing To Lose” changes it up slightly, keeping the catchy choruses but putting more of a garage rock sound into the formula. It isn’t my favorite track, as it feels pretty repetitive during the first half, but the change of sound compared to the last track helps with the monotony. The guitar playing is pretty cool though, as it deviates from the grooves and decides to “take flight” here and there.
“When We Fall” is my least favorite track, just to throw that out there. Catchy, sure. It just feels watered down compared to what they were demonstrating before. I think it may be the vocals for the most part. I just can’t get into it.
“House of Cards” does a complete 180, and proves this band has better things to do than create watered down, weak songs. The gentle introduction pouring into some really groovy guitar and drum sections combined with high energy moments all around.
“The Switch” rounds out the EP with a ballad of sorts. Now I don’t mind ballads. They show some diversity and add a nice contrast to short albums or EPs that may feel like they have the same sort of pace. I could see this song being on the radio at some point, if they decide to stay with promoting this EP for a while longer.
Overall, this EP demonstrates some potential. I want to see these guys take chances because I know they are capable of making a great full length album if they do so. I’m in no way comparing them to Breaking Benjamin as they are two totally different entities, but I am just hoping that these guys take a unique direction with their music. They have the fans and the sales, so we will see what they end up doing. A solid effort for sure with enough unique sounds to make it intriguing.