In a generation of generic, same-old-same rock bands that have been popping up like weeds devouring the heavy music landscape, it is a fantastic surprise when one finds something more blooming in the rough. Akron, Ohio’s Red Sun Rising is an example of a modern day hard rock outfit that does more than then simply regurgitate the past or clone the sound of the other countless bands treading water around them.
The quintet took root with longtime friends, vocalist Mike Protich and guitarist Ryan Williams. Guitarist Tyler Valendza, bassist Ricky Miller, and drummer Pat Gerasia round out the band which has made a name for itself through its tight live performances and well-crafted songwriting. Red Sun Rising’s debut release, Polyester Zeal, is not breaking new ground so much as it is reimagining the past with an eye on nuance and an ear for melody.
At first listen, the debut single “The Otherside”, is a prototypical alt-rock anthem. It is a catchy spin and an outstanding introduction to the band. Yet this same track is in many ways the weakest of the record’s offerings for it is the most formulaic in the modern mainstream sense. Still, even here, Red Sun Rising manage to push the envelope a bit with its delivery.
The album’s opener, “Push”, is an aggressive and addictive kick start to Polyester Zeal’s sonic journey. Immediately the listener gets a sense that the band understands the importance of shadows and subtlety that have long been all but missing from rock and roll. It is these little moments that make a song stand the test of time.
The next track and a personal favorite is, “Amnesia”. If Pearl Jam and Cheap Trick ever fathered a child, this song would be the result. Huge melodies combine with strong and driving rhythms to create a retro vibe that culminates with an infectious chorus. Protich’s delivery is outstanding and blends perfectly with Miller’s strong backing vocals. Easily one of the best songs of 2015.
Many bands influenced by 90s artists attempt to infuse a pinch of the 70s into their music as well, but few can pull it off to positive effect. Red Sun Rising manage to blend the best of both eras in an organic and genuine manner, which makes all the difference. This is filtered through the band’s own modern approach to songwriting, and it pays big dividends on songs like the darkly emotive “My Muse” and the gritty acoustic swing of “Emotionless”.
Throughout Polyester Zeal’s 11 tracks there exist numerable moments where the songs go a different direction than one might expect, or build in exciting ways. That is one of the most delightful aspects of Red Sun Rising’s music. They are not reinventing the wheel, but they do make the ride much more exhilarating.
Polyester Zeal is one of the most exciting debut albums that rock and roll has experienced in recent years. Red Sun Rising is off to a brilliant start with this release, and those who have lamented the death of true rock music can rejoice at another hopeful example of the genre’s long overdue return.
Polyester Zeal releases August 7 through Razor & Tie records. The band is currently touring with Pop Evil.