Boilermaker – Leucadia

Boilermaker
Leucadia

How can one band be so obviously influential and yet so scarcely recognized? It’s a shame that Boilermaker, over its seven-year history, has gotten so little recognition. That may be because they only released three full-length albums between 1994 and 1998 and then vanished for so many years. But they’re back with this retrospective, which is truly a wonderful piece of music.
If you know Boilermaker and have their albums, you won’t want to buy this, unless you’re a completist who picks it up for the two new songs. But there are 17 songs here, all but 15 from the band’s three albums, and all their best are here. What this really is is the perfect introduction to a band that, as they say themselves in a piece written by drummer Timothy Semple, set the foundations for modern “emo.”
The Boilermaker sound is unique, recognizable first by the vocal style. Terrin Durfey’s vocals usually have a dual effect that gives the songs a unique sound. And the band’s guitar assault comes often fast and furious yet still with a sense of thick melody. Couple that with intricate bass and drumwork, and you get Boilermaker.
The two new songs here are quieter, more mellow and introspective, which is somewhat fitting for a retrospective. “Whitewash” starts off the album, and it has something of a dreamy feel to it. And the closer, “Cruel Heart,” is similarly more mellow, only here there’s acoustic guitars and an almost country-ish feel, odd for this band yet striking, especially for the stark lyrics. “I need you more than you know / know that you need me too,” Durfey sings.
The band’s sound didn’t change much between their three albums. Watercourse has some powerful rockers, like the assault of “Hill,” with its discordant guitar that obviously had an influence on bands like No Knife. The band gets more melodic on songs like “Lot 235.” Their second album, In Wallace’s Shadow, shows a progression into some better produced and still rocking material. Songs like “Iris” and “Breach” rock hard, with layered guitars but not too heavy and moments of quietness, and others are even more mellow and deep, like the lovely “Slow Down.”
It’s the band’s third album, listed here as untitled, that was their best, however. These songs are vintage Boilermaker, with more melodicism but no less the intensity. “Norman” is sheer brilliance, intense and powerful, and “Last Stop on the Way to Vegas” has a kind of chilling quality, especially to the guitars, that often shakes me. “Sunset Ridge” is another stellar song, with a driving guitar assault and great vocals, singing, “take these shotgun shells that you left behind when you walked through the door.” Then there’s a sense of a lighter, more melodic side to the wonderful “Thinner Runs Through Her.”
Boilermaker’s style was very unique: aggressive yet with hints of melody and a deep emotional quality. While they didn’t have as much melodicism as the more well-known emo bands, they clearly set the stage for many of the bands that would follow. If you don’t have their other albums, this is one you should pick up, for every song here is excellent and shows off an excellent band. Word is, they may be playing again and recording again after getting together to put out this release, and reforming would definitely be welcomed.