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“Six-Pack” EP by Szabotage

Szabotage is on the edge of something huge. The six songs they’ve recorded and included on the band’s Six-Pack EP are obviously geared to make a maximum impact; you won’t finish this EP wishy-washy on the band’s merits. It verges on a full-length release, six songs with such length is veering away from the EP form, and we can only take that as a signal that the band’s creativity is bursting at the seams. It’s actually not a single, however. This band is on fire.

Studio or home recordings often neuter rock bands of every ilk. Not this Vancouver, Canada four-piece. Lead vocalist James Phillips, guitarist Victor Szabo, bassist Mike Dykeman, and drummer Grant Moynes founded the band in early 2020, but the band’s roots run much deeper than such recent history. Phillips and Szabo have known each other and played music together for seventeen years and, in a curious confluence, the rhythm section shares a near-identical history. The meeting of these respective tandems produces magic.

“Mistakes Were Made” isn’t shy about pulverizing listeners and manages to entertain them as well. It’s difficult to imagine many listeners, particularly rock devotees, becoming bored by the band’s approach here as they basically toss aside any restraint and unleash one full-blast rock guitar salvo after another. They find their target. Szabo eschews the traditional guitar hero role, Szabotage may cite older bands such as Black Sabbath as an influence, but there’s very little retro about their focus.

“Are We Machines?” shows another side of the band. It isn’t any radical departure from what we hear before it, but its varying textures show newcomers that Szabotage is willing to widen their scope when the song requires it. The time they spent together in relative solitude has allowed them to polish these songs to a bright sheen and you hear, at every turn, the sound of a band who began the recording process knowing exactly what they wanted to achieve.

They’ve reached their goal, if not exceeded it. “Sinn Fein” is a definite peak on the EP as their ability to grind listeners into dust with their riffing meets its match with a wicked handle on dynamics. It’s a part of their presentation that few other bands can match. “Fremont” has an unusual opening, it invokes a tortured yet inexorable mood, and a sense of possibility is apparent from the first. Phillips really lets go here and takes his level of performance several notches higher than his already exceptional earlier performances.

This is go-for-broke modern hard rock and metal with a healthy dose of theatrics in its makeup. Szabotage’s Six-Pack has plenty of evidence they have room to grow as well and it isn’t difficult imagining that a full-length album is in the offing. This band isn’t playing around and is clearly intent on making up any time they lost waiting for the pandemic’s shadow to shrink. This six-track EP proves it’s their time to shine and you can expect they’ll burn bright for many years to come.

Mindy McCall



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